Website now offering real-time quake info
By Benjamin Graham, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Date: October 5, 2012
An earthquake hit northeast of Moran yesterday at 12:01 p.m. But, at a measly 1.3 on the Richter scale, it’s just about certain that no one felt it.
But for those who are curious about earthquakes, tremors and other seismic events in the Greater Yellowstone area, there was a quick way to find out: a new feature on a website that focuses on Grand Teton National Park.
The site marks the locations of recent earthquake activity, including temblors that shook only hours before. The map shows all of Grand Teton National Park and the southern portion of Yellowstone National Park. It indicates active fault lines, and displays the location and scale of historic quakes.
“There’s no website that’s really focused on earthquakes in the Teton region,” said Dr. Robert Smith, a professor of geophysics at the University of Utah and coordinating scientist for the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. “This will be a fantastic source for teaching and for students. It’s a real-time source.”
Smith worked with the Grand Teton National Park Foundation to develop the site and its new interactive map. He is also a board member of the foundation.
On Thursday, the map indicated there had been 10 earthquakes in the area in the past week, all of them registering 1.5 or below on the Richter scale. Five tiny quakes were in an Oct. 1 cluster in an area northwest of Shoshone Lake in Yellowstone park.
The 3.7 magnitude quake that shook parts of Yellowstone in September is not on the map. After quakes in the previous day and week are noted, they pass into the “historic earthquake” category, and must hit 4 on the Richter scale to remain in the website history.
The map is the newest addition to the site, which was launched in the summer of 2011. The site cost about $20,000 to create.
The site is funded by the Grand Teton National Park Foundation. Besides quake data, it also provides information on the area’s geological history, the seismic forces at work and features of the Teton landscape.
“It’s about education as well as deepening people’s connections to the park,” said Elisabeth Rohrbach, development and communications officer at the foundation. “It’s the only place that stores earthquake data historically, visually for people to see.”
The quake statistics are collected by seismic stations belonging to the University of Utah. The website transfers the raw data on to the map.
The site can be accessed at DiscoverGrandTeton.org/Teton-Geology/Earthquake-Activity/.