Monday, January 16, 2012

Earthquakes and Tectonics

The subject of earthquakes leads naturally to tectonics - large-scale movements of the Earth's crust. It's hard to imagine rocks in the Alps with marine fossils in them getting to a kilometer or two of elevation above sea level without some violence associated with the process. Nevertheless, there are tectonic events that are not felt but can still be detected using sensitive equipment - the so-called "slow earthquakes."

Surprisingly often, people will respond with a thanks - and perhaps even another follow-on question.


Hi, I am a 5th grade student in Atlanta, Georgia and I was exploring your website when a question came up. I saw the email address, wrote it down, and told myself, go for it, so I did. My Question: What is the name of the mountain range in Utah that was created by earthquakes? Please respond.
-Natalie H.


All the mountain ranges in Utah likely had earthquakes associated with their formation. Relatively few tectonic uplift events are aseismic. However, "slow creep events" apparently happen a lot more frequently than scientists had ever anticipated, and this probably applies to most every mountain ranges worldwide. Though not felt, these are still technically earthquakes, and can be detected with telemetered GPS arrays.

I suspect, however, that you are thinking of the most obvious fault and mountain range, both named Wasatch, rising east of Salt Lake City. It's hard not to look at the Wasatch Front from I-15 and not think "That looks like it was sliced with a knife!"

Thank you that really helped!! :)


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