BREAKING: Earthquake Rattles Valley

By on August 27, 2016

Jackson Hole, WY — Around 3 p.m. Saturday a 4.8 magnitude earthquake jolted the valley.

“It’s a small earthquake … but it shook us here in Moose,” reported local geophysicist Dr. Bob Smith of the University of Utah.

Smith, who measures seismic activity in the Greater Yellowstone area for the US Geological Survey, recorded the quake a little higher than USGS officials—at 5.04—which he noted is only a small variance.

The quake happened seven miles east of Bondurant. “It shook for almost 10 minutes,” Smith noted. “This is an area [near Bondurant] of relatively low seismicity … it is unusual.”

According to USGS’s “Did you feel it?” website, people felt the earthquake as far as Idaho Falls, ID, and Rock Springs, WY.

The “unusual” locale of the quake has caused some to speculate. Fracking—which is happening less than 100 miles from the site of the quake in Jonah Field—has been linked to earthquakes in other states. Specifically, the injection and disposal wells that store the toxic waste water from fracking can trigger quakes as pressure levels rise. But Smith doesn’t believe fracking is to blame. The earthquakes caused by fracking, he says, typically happen within a few miles of a fracking site. The epicenter of this quake is surrounded by wilderness.

While Smith does not see a link between the quake and fracking in this instance, induced seismicity can occur at significant distances from injection wells, according to the USGS website. “Seismicity can be induced at distances of 10 miles or more away from the injection point and at significantly greater depths than the injection point.”

After a series of fracking-triggered quakes in other states, a 2014 study by the Wyoming State Geological Survey investigated the correlation between injection and disposal wells and earthquakes in Wyoming, a state that has long clattered with seismic activity. At five oil and gas sites, scientists could not find a relationship between the wells and seismicity. However, a link was not ruled out at a sixth site, located in Sweetwater County, where WSGS determined more research is needed, according to Sweetwater Now.

Did you feel it? Report where you felt the rattling here.



About Robyn Vincent

Robyn is the editor of Planet Jackson Hole and Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine. When she's not sweating deadlines, she likes to travel the world with her notebook and camera in hand. Follow her on Twitter @TheNomadicHeart

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