Exciting news! We're transitioning to the Statewide California Earthquake Center. Our new website is under construction, but we'll continue using this website for SCEC business in the meantime. We're also archiving the Southern Center site to preserve its rich history. A new and improved platform is coming soon!

Geologic Setting, Ground Effects, and Proposed Structural Model for the 18 March 2020 Mw 5.7 Magna, Utah, Earthquake

Emily J. Kleber, Adam McKean, Adam I. Hiscock, Michael D. Hylland, Christian L. Hardwick, Greg McDonald, Zachary W. Anderson, Steve Bowman, Grant C. Willis, & Ben A. Erickson

Published December 30, 2020, SCEC Contribution #11779

The 18 March 2020 Mw 5.7 Magna, Utah, earthquake was the largest earthquake in Utah since the 1992 ML 5.8 St. George earthquake. The geologic setting of the Magna earthquake is well documented by recent geologic mapping at 1:24,000 scale and 1:62,500 scale at and near the epicenter northeast of Magna, Utah. Subsurface fault modeling from surficial geologic mapping, structural cross sections, deep borehole data, and geophysical data reveals a complex system of faulting concentrated in the hanging wall of the Weber and Salt Lake City segments of the Wasatch fault zone including the Harkers fault, the West Valley fault zone, and the newly interpreted Saltair graben. Based on geologic and geophysical data (seismic and gravity), we interpret the mainshock of the Magna earthquake as having occurred on a relatively gently dipping part of the Salt Lake City segment, with aftershocks concentrated in the Saltair graben and West Valley fault zone. Postearthquake rapid reconnaissance of geological effects of the Magna earthquake documented liquefaction near the earthquake epicenter, along the Jordan River, and along the Great Salt Lake shoreline. Subaerial and subaqueous sand boils were identified in regions with roadway infrastructure and artificial fill, whereas collapse features were noted along the shores of the Great Salt Lake. Potential syneresis cracking and pooling in large areas indicated fluctuating groundwater likely related to earthquake ground shaking. The moderate magnitude of the Magna earthquake and minimal geological effects highlight the critical importance of earthquake research from multidisciplinary fields in the geosciences and preparedness on the Wasatch Front.

Kleber, E. J., McKean, A., Hiscock, A. I., Hylland, M. D., Hardwick, C. L., McDonald, G., Anderson, Z. W., Bowman, S., Willis, G. C., & Erickson, B. A. (2020). Geologic Setting, Ground Effects, and Proposed Structural Model for the 18 March 2020 Mw 5.7 Magna, Utah, Earthquake. Seismological Research Letters, 92(2A), 710-724. doi: 10.1785/0220200331.