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Idaho, Utah earthquakes have same cause, but not related

USGS maps show people reported feeling the 6.5 magnitude earthquake from 80 miles away.

Experts believe there’s no connection between recent major earthquakes in Utah and Idaho. And neither quake poses an increased risk to the supervolcano at Yellowstone National Park.

A 5.7 magnitude quake shook Magna, Utah, on March 18. A more powerful 6.5 quake struck west of Challis, Idaho, on March 31.  Even though the two quakes were only 1 magnitude apart, the University of Utah Seismograph Stations estimates the Idaho quake released 16 times more energy.

Unrelated

“We just don’t see an effect for one earthquake triggering another beyond about a few times whatever the length of the original fault is,” said seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones on KSL Newsradio’s ‘Utah’s Morning News with Tim & Amanda’

So, if the Magna earthquake had a fault line of approximately 10 miles, it wouldn’t affect another earthquake happening 200 miles away. There may be no relationship between the two quakes because of distance or time, but they have the same cause.

“The whole area between the Wasatch Front and the Sierra Nevada is being gradually stretched out,” said Dr. Jones.

After the Magna quake struck, seismologists said there would be an incrementally increased chance for a bigger quake within the next few months. Nothing has changed after the Idaho quake.

“The fact that you added the Idaho earthquake doesn’t change your risk in Utah,” said Dr. Jones.

This also means neither quake has any effect on the supervolcano at Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone is not on the brink of eruption Dr. Jones says saying that it’s no more dangerous than the 150 other volcanoes in the U.S. She believes the term “supervolcano” may be a bit suggestive.

Seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones (Credit: Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society)

“All that means is that once there was an eruption with a huge amount of magma in it.”

The last such eruption in Yellowstone is estimated to have happened 640,000 years ago.

You can learn more about the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society at their website.

Listen to the interview with Dr. Lucy Jones on Utah’s Morning News here: