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Yes, we’re still feeling aftershocks from the 2020 Magna earthquake

A man surveys damage to a building in downtown Magna.
Courtesy Utah State Historic Preservation Office
A man surveys damage to a building in downtown Magna after the 5.7 magnitude earthquake that struck the area on March 18, 2020.

A magnitude 2.5 earthquake struck Magna on June 3 at 5:02 a.m. According to a report from the University of Utah Seismograph Stations, it was felt by more than 270 people in the Salt Lake Valley.

This wasn’t just any earthquake, it was an aftershock from a magnitude 5.7 earthquake that hit the same area on March 18, 2020.

Since then, there have been over 2,700 aftershocks.

Katherine Whidden, a research seismologist from the University of Utah, said aftershocks are only considered to be over when earthquakes return to the background level. That means there’s one earthquake in the same area about every two months. After that, any new earthquakes would be considered unrelated to the previous one.

However, the Magna earthquake is ongoing.

“We’re still having one or two earthquakes per week, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s more than is typical for that area,” Whidden said.

Most of the aftershocks have been smaller, usually a magnitude of 1.5 or less. It’s also normal for them to continue for multiple years.

If people are worried about earthquakes, Whidden said there are some good ways to prepare. The best thing is to have 72 hours worth of food, water and medicine on hand.

It’s also a good idea to have a plan for your family.

“If you’re at work and your kids are at school, how are you going to find each other?” Whidden said.

However, people shouldn’t be worried. The aftershocks are expected to continue with the rate decreasing over time, and Whidden said most will go unnoticed by Utahns.

Kristine Weller is a newsroom intern at KUER. She’s only been a journalist for a year but is excited to see what the future holds.
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