Why do Earthquakes Happen? | What's the Chance in Utah?
Free Newsletter! Earthquakes Emergency Plan Prepare Your Home Emergency Supplies What To Do Where To Go Web Resources Calendar Interactive Video

Planet Earth is composed of layers: the inner core, the outer core, the lower mantle, the upper mantle, and the crust. We live on the crust.

Earthquakes result from the movement of a fault, a zone of deformation in the uppermost layers of the crust.

The crust is made of massive pieces of solid earth called tectonic plates. These plates are in slow but constant motion. As the plates move towards or away from each other, the stress they create sometimes exceeds the Earth’s capacity to support the movement. This is when an earthquake happens. Earthquakes usually occur at plate boundaries. Less frequently, earthquakes occur in the interior of a plate.

There are different kinds of faults, and different kinds of earthquakes. A strike-slip fault creates horizontal movement and shaking. Dip-slip faults create vertical motion. In normal dip-slip faults the earth falls. In a dip-slip thrust fault, the earth is shoved upwards.

In Utah, the mountain ranges were primarily created by normal dip-slip faults. A large earthquake could cause cause a segment of the Wasatch fault line to drop 3 to 20 feet.

Contact Us | Disclaimer | Calendar of Events | Utah Fault Zone Finder