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Examining Correlations Between Earthquake Epicenters & Quaternary Faults Throughout Utah

Ranging from small tremors to impactful vibrations, seismologists have recorded the locations of 28,161 earthquake epicenters over a 116-year period. Through a visual and analytical examination, this week’s Map of the Week explores the spatial relationship between recorded epicenters and fault locations while visualizing where epicenter density is highest throughout Utah. #MapMonday

Examining Correlations Between Earthquake Epicenters & Quaternary Faults Throughout Utah

This map began by incorporating a database of earthquake epicenter locations obtained from the Utah Automated Geographic Reference Center (AGRC). While plotting epicenter locations on a map provides a great deal of information, evidence of high-density occurrences throughout Utah were difficult to determine. To answer this question, multiple spatial analysis functions were employed:

  1. Epicenter data was spatially joined with corresponding USGS Quadrangle boundaries for Utah to determine a total count of occurrences within each study area.
  2. A Kernel Density Analysis was performed on the epicenter data to produce a heat map representing the density of occurrences throughout Utah (both high and low).

Results from the spatial analysis concluded that the highest density of earthquake occurrences took place within the extreme norther Utah Tremonton Quadrangle area with 5,405 epicenters recorded from 1900 – 2016. The lowest density was found to be located within the eastern Utah Westwater Quadrangle area with only 4 recorded epicenters during the same time period.

This map is an example of the methods in which GIS can be utilized to analyze and present raw data through easily understandable visualizations. How might your projects benefit from the incorporation of GIS?

About Map of the Weeks from GIS Services:

Throughout the semester, GIS Services will continue releasing bi-weekly maps on a variety of topics for the purpose of demonstrating ideas and uses for incorporating geospatial technology into research and projects you are developing. To view our collection of maps, projects or to learn about the geospatial services offered through the Marriott Library, please visit the GIS Services website @

Happy Mapping!

Justin Sorensen | GIS Specialist
Creativity & Innovation Services / GIS Services

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