There are many phenomena in the natural world that are tough – or even next to impossible – for scientists to explain. Regardless of where the recent ground-shaking in Utah falls on that “tough-to-impossible” scale, one thing is certain: seismologists are making it abundantly clear that it is not due to earthquakes. That, however, only deepens the mystery. Is Elon Musk at it again or are long-grounded UFOs erupting from sandy beds and taking to the stars again? Tough to tell, but scientists do have a theory.
According to Salt Lake City’s Fox 13, at least three counties in Utah experienced an unexplainable shaking on Tuesday night. However, just when people were beginning to suspect an earthquake, The UUSS (University of Utah Seismograph Stations) quickly took to Twitter to confirm that the shaking was not due to seismic activity in the area. Peculiar, right? You can check out the tweet for yourself below:
What, then, was the cause of the shaking? Some experts have said that it could be the sonic boom caused by fighter jets. Earlier this year, scientists strongly suspected that Hill Air Force Base fighter jets were to blame for previous sonic booms in the area.
It is worth noting that the region where the shaking occurred is actually on an active fault line called the Wasatch Fault. The fault stretches about 240 miles and extends from southern Idaho into northern Utah. Over the course of 10,000 years or so, a major seismic event has rocked the area once every 900-1,300 years. The Wasatch Fault segment under Salt Lake City has not produced an earthquake in over 1,000 years, but the neighboring towns of Weber, Provo, and Nephi haven’t experienced earthquakes in their segments for 200 to 700 years. Meanwhile, the Brigham City fault segment has been quiet for over 2,000 years. That was a ton of information that the unfamiliar may find overwhelming, so here’s a helpful visual that may aid you in picturing the area:
So, it is not out of the realm of possibility or even remotely unreasonable to assume that earthquakes cause random shaking in this region of Utah. Residents located as far south as Provo (see above) reported shaking last night as well. Here are is a tweet detailing an experience with the shaking:
Sounds like one heck of a sonic boom! Or maybe UFOs? That last possibility is not likely so don’t let your hopes float too high, but it is still fascinating to discuss.
It honestly sounds like this was just another sonic boom from fighter jets taking off from the Air Force base. There have been two reported instances of fighter jets causing sonic booms in that area, the first occurring last October and the second in the aforementioned incident in January. Obviously, people who were experiencing the shaking in the moment had no clue what was actually going on, and because the area is situated in an active fault zone, the first cause they could think of was an earthquake.
Hopefully we will get some confirmation one way or the other.