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Like most other hills and valleys across the globe, the majestic Rocky Mountains, and Wasatch Front in particular, were created by the heaving’s and jarring’s of the Earth. Millions of years ago powerful tectonic plates crashed into each other forming, by the process of plate subduction, a mountain range later to be called the Rocky Mountains that would stretch from the northern territories of Canada to the desserts of northern Mexico.
Building Utah on a Fault Like most other hills and valleys across the globe, the majestic Rocky Mountains, and Wasatch Front in particular, were created by the heaving’s and jarring’s of the Earth. Millions of years ago powerful tectonic plates crashed into each other forming, by the process of plate subduction, a mountain range later to be called the Rocky Mountains that would stretch from the northern territories of Canada to the desserts of northern Mexico. Mountain ranges The beautiful peaks and ridges of the Rocky Mountains provide adventure and grandeur for those who live by or within them. Salt Lake City is one such location where visitors and residence alike can enjoy the mystic beauty of the Rockies from out their own windows. Salt Lake City is a major urban area that is built at the base of the towering peaks of the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains. The proximity of the mountains to the city and the numerous other urban areas that span the entire range makes for a thrilling and scenic geographical back-drop for individuals to live and families to grow. For this reason there have been many that have chosen to make their homes along the base of the Wasatch Mountains. But with this beauty comes an inherent danger from the very aspects that made the regal mountains to begin with. The movement of Earth’s enormous tectonic plates brings powerful earthquakes at every seismic shift and the same is true for the plates that have formed the Rockies and those that have merge along the Wasatch Fault. The danger, therefore, of a powerful earthquake striking the heavily populated areas spanning the Wasatch Front is ever present and continuous, some may even say inevitable. Evidence of the impending quake along the Wasatch Front can be seen in other areas of the fault that run along the Pacific and North American tectonic plates. In central Idaho near Borah Peak in 1983 a powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake shook the rural landscape and split the Earth’s crust, causing a six foot cliff to jut up at the fault line. Earthquakes Danger of a powerful earthquake rocking the urban Wasatch Front has been predicted since 1883 when an employee of the U.S. Geological Survey, G. K. Gilbert, announced through the Salt Lake Tribune that residence of the Salt Lake Valley should prepare for and expect a disastrous earthquake erupting along the fault line they lived on. Since then the long awaited super-tremor has been anxiously anticipated and monitored at the fault for activity. With evidences pointing to an inevitable earthquake hitting the Salt Lake City area, local governments have enacted into law certain building regulations and codes to ensure that structures are built to withstand an earthquake without failing. A building that structurally fails during an earthquake can cause excessive casualties to those individuals inside at the time it partially or entirely collapses. By having Utah construction companies maintain and follow these codes, the cities and the entire state of Utah hope to mitigate damages and injuries when the so labeled “Big One” hits. Photo credit: Eric Hunt, Robert Sanzalone
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