OGDEN -- A string of earthquakes in the last month -- with one in Rich County on Thursday -- has attracted attention, but it's nothing out of the ordinary.
On average, there are 17 earthquakes per year between a 7 and 7.9 on the Richter scale and one above a magnitude 8, said Relu Burlacu, University of Utah Seismograph Station network manager.
Recent severe earthquakes around the world, including in Haiti, Chili and China, have received more attention because they are in populated areas, he said.
"So if you have a big earthquake in an area where the population is sparse, it's a different perception, even if the earthquake has the same magnitude," he said.
And although some people might think the earthquakes are related, Burlacu said they are too far apart in distance to have anything to do with each other. As a general rule, earthquakes don't trigger other quakes so far away.
Aftershocks are different because they are closer.
The U.S. Geological Survey Web site states, "Often, people wonder if an earthquake in Alaska may have triggered an earthquake in California; or if an earthquake in Chile is related to an earthquake that occurred a week later in Mexico. Over these distances, the answer is no.
"Even the Earth's rocky crust is not rigid enough to transfer stress fields efficiently over thousands of miles."
Although Thursday's quake is not related to recent quakes in other parts of the world, Top of Utah residents got all shook up with the largest quake to hit Utah in 18 years.
The magnitude 4.9 quake did little damage but should serve as a reminder that Utahns need to be prepared for an even larger quake, Burlacu said.
The UUSS detects more than 2,000 earthquakes a year in Utah, he said.
If the same earthquake had hit downtown Ogden, structural damage would not be likely, but there might have been injuries from falling dishes, hutches or entertainment systems, said Lance Peterson, Weber County Emergency Management director.
He recommends securing tall, large furniture to wall studs with brackets.
According to the Modified Mercalli scale, which translates the magnitude of a quake into what the physical effects are, the intensity of Thursday's quake should be felt by most people, inside or outside; may break windows and dishes; and will feel like a large train passing near the house.
Peterson said people should prepare with five steps:
- Have a family plan on what to do and how to regroup in case of an emergency.
- Have a family or personal preparedness kit in the car, at work and at home.
Peterson said the kits can be simple and inexpensive with things like food and water, a first-aid kit, necessary medications and -- his own personal comfort food -- a few boxes of Girl Scout cookies.
- Secure water heaters. Gas leaks from broken pipes are a leading cause of fires.
- Get Community Emergency Response Team training. Peterson said the skills are valuable to prevent becoming a victim of disaster.
- Get earthquake insurance on homes.
That might have to wait awhile, though.
Several insurance companies in the Ogden area said they place moratoriums on new earthquake insurance for anywhere from a week to a month after a quake.
People do tend to call in more often after quakes hit, asking to add coverage to their homeowner's insurance, said an employee of an Ogden Allstate office.
Ogden feels earthquake tremor
OGDEN -- Did you feel that?
Residents in the Top of Utah felt the tremors from an earthquake that struck near Randolph in Rich County just before 6 p.m. Thursday.
The magnitude 4.9 earthquake was centered about 5 miles northeast of Randolph. It was the largest in Utah since a magnitude 5.9 temblor hit near St. George in 1992, according to Relu Burlacu, of the University of Utah seismograph stations.
The quake echoed throughout parts of Utah, Idaho and Wyoming with no immediate reports of significant damage or injuries. Dispatchers in Weber and Box Elder counties reported that they received a number of calls about the tremors, but no reports of damage. Davis County dispatchers said they did not receive calls about the temblor.
Less than an hour after the earthquake struck, the U.S. Geological Survey Web site logged more than 1,400 responses from people who said they felt the quake. Responses came from Provo to Salt Lake City and Ogden to Jackson, Wyo., and Pocatello, Idaho.
Lance Peterson, director of emergency management and homeland security in Weber County, called the quake a case study demonstrating what a larger quake could unleash in Northern Utah.
"It was interesting because it was on the other side of the mountain range," Peterson said. "That just tells you that if we have one anywhere along the Wasatch Front, we're all going to be greatly affected. Just look at the effect of this little one on the other side of the mountain. Everybody's felt it."
The bedrock of that mountain range usually dampens shaking, Peterson said, but he heard reports that people felt a rolling shockwave.
"It just reinforces, if we have an earthquake here -- even if it's in Salt Lake -- if it's a big one, it's going to impact us big-time in Ogden and Brigham City and Logan," he said.
Peterson was at the Boy Scouts of America Trapper Trails Council office in South Ogden waiting for a meeting when the earthquake happened.
"I just thought somebody was rolling something in the building," Peterson said. "Then the guy from upstairs came down and said, 'Did you feel that earthquake? It was rolling.'aa"
No emergency services were activated in the county because the tremor was so minor, Peterson said.
He reiterated the importance of people having an emergency plan and supplies, as well as having earthquake insurance coverage, and securing large objects inside homes and workplaces and getting individuals trained to participate in local community emergency response teams.
Steve Greiner, who works at Convergys in Riverdale, said cubicles shook and hanging potted plants were swinging in his building.
"The cubicles shook pretty good; they're pretty big, I didn't think (they would) shake like that. I stood up and about half the people here were standing up, saying, 'Did you feel that?'
Lisa Schwebke, who works as a medical receptionist for a physician on the fourth floor of McKay-Dee Hospital, said the tremor caused her desk to vibrate and made the building sway.
When the shaking stopped, Schwebke immediately shut down her computer and exited the hospital as a safety precaution.
An employee who works at the federal building in downtown Ogden said workers on the upper three floors of the six-story building reported both feeling and seeing movement, such as window blinds swaying back and forth.
A West Haven resident who called the Standard-Examiner said she felt the tremor and her dining room table shook. A Roy resident said her whole mobile home shook for what she estimated was about 30 seconds.
"It was pretty strong," said Stacy Showalter, who works at Gator's Drive-Inn in Randolph. She said a cook there was jolted a couple of feet from the grill to the counter.
Bart Shiveley, a 25-year-old security guard in the Wells Fargo Building in downtown Salt Lake City, said it felt like "swaying on a boat or in a rocking chair; it was nothing big."
Mark Glick, 54, a lawyer who works on the 18th floor of the Wells Fargo building, said he was standing up in his office when it happened.
"It felt like a mild earthquake," Glick said. "Most people didn't feel it, this is just like a small tremor."
A dispatcher with the Rich County sheriff's office said the temblor was strong enough to shake pictures on the wall.
In the southeastern corner of Idaho, Franklin County sheriff's office dispatcher Dave Matthews felt the quake for about 20 seconds, and it was strong enough to shake him in his office chair and make the window blinds sway.
"The lights on my phone lit up like a Christmas tree," Matthews said, "Everybody felt it, but nobody was injured."
Bear Lake County dispatcher Linda Jensen said there were reports of minor shaking near Fish Haven, a tiny community on the banks of the Bear River, but nothing serious.
Four earthquakes with a magnitude 3.0 or greater have struck within 16 miles of the epicenter since 1962, according to officials at the University of Utah seismograph stations. The largest of those was a magnitude 3.8 in 1979.
A 4.6 quake struck in 1966 within 32 miles of Thursday's epicenter.
Burlacu said smaller aftershocks are possible.
The Utah Region of the American Red Cross has suggested checking out its earthquake safety and preparedness information.
The Associated Press and Standard-Examiner staffers Dave Greiling, Roy Burton and Scott Schwebke contributed to this report.
OGDEN -- Residents in the Ogden area felt the tremors from an earthquake that struck near Randolph just before 6 p.m. tonight.
The quake registered 4.9 on the Richter scale and was centered about 5 mile east of Randolph in Rich County.
Weber County dispatchers reported that they were receiving a number of calls about the tremors but no reports of damage.
An employee who works at the federal building in downtown Ogden said workers on the upper three floors of the six-story building reported feeling and seeing movement, such as window blinds swaying back and forth.
A West Haven resident who called the Standard-Examiner said she felt the tremor and her dining room table shook.
A Roy resident said her whole mobile home shook for what she estimated was about 30 seconds.