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Fault trace mapping and surface-fault-rupture special study zone delineation of the Wasatch Fault Zone, Utah and Idaho

December 31, 2020

The Wasatch fault zone (WFZ) is a 220-mile-long (350-km) fault zone divided into 10 structural segments extending from southeastern Idaho to central Utah. The central five segments of the WFZ underlie the densely populated Wasatch Front region, where the majority of Utah’s population and economy are proximal to the fault zone. The West Valley fault zone (WVFZ) is an antithetic structure related to the WFZ and runs through the Salt Lake Valley. Communities on or adjacent to the WFZ are at risk of earthquake damage, due to their proximity to the fault zones. During 2016–2018, the Utah Geological Survey and a U.S. Geological Survey collaborator performed updated fault mapping of 39 7.5' quadrangles along the WFZ using recently acquired high-resolution topographic data derived from airborne light detection and ranging (lidar) elevation data. Previous geologic mapping, paleoseismic investigations, historical aerial photography, and field investigations were also used to identify and map surface fault traces and infer fault locations. Special study zones were delineated around fault traces to facilitate understanding of the surface-rupturing hazard and associated risk. Defining these special study zones encourages the creation and implementation of municipal and county geologic-hazard ordinances dealing with hazardous faults. We identified potential paleoseismic investigation sites where fault scarps appear relatively pristine, are located in geologically favorable settings, and where additional earthquake timing data would be beneficial to the continued earthquake research of the WFZ. The fault geometries, attributes, and special study zones were published in the online Utah Geologic Hazards Portal simultaneously with this Report of Investigation (RI). This report contains supplementary material describing the data and methods used to perform the mapping and in locating potential paleoseismic investigation sites in the study area. This work is critical to raise awareness of earthquake hazards in areas of Utah experiencing rapid growth.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2020
Title Fault trace mapping and surface-fault-rupture special study zone delineation of the Wasatch Fault Zone, Utah and Idaho
DOI 10.34191/RI-280
Authors Greg N. McDonald, Emily J. Kleber, Adam I. Hiscock, S. Bennett, Steve D. Bowman
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Series Title
Series Number
Index ID 70218699
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center