This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The earthquake that rocked Wells, Nev., two months ago would have enormous - and probably deadly - impacts in the Salt Lake Valley.
A new analysis of a magnitude-6.0 earthquake on a fault that lies just west of Interstate 215 - the West Valley Fault - estimates the toll this way:
* 16 to 17 people would die in an area from Weber County through Salt Lake County and 9 to 20 would sustain life-threatening injuries.
* Homes and businesses would suffer about $2.5 billion in damage.
* About 1,004 buildings would be unsalvageable, another 11,074 would have extensive damage and 73,979 would show slight or moderate damage.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency and earthquake experts at the University of Utah have sketched out the scenario in the weeks since the 6.0 temblor rocked the small, Nevada community and left some buildings in ruins.
Bob Carey, earthquake coordinator for the Utah Department of Homeland Security, will be presenting the findings today at the Top of Utah's Ready Your Business Conference at the Ogden Marriott. Carey said the map will be a vivid education tool.
"When you can put some reality to it," he said, "it's a motivator."
To Carey, and many others who study earthquakes and their consequences for public safety, some of the key findings are contained in the numbers dealing with the valley's unreinforced masonry buildings. Utah has many of them. And those who own them, or who live or work in them, face special hazards.
For instance, all but five of the 1,004 destroyed buildings would be brick or another type of unreinforced masonry. And all but 259 of the projected 11,074 extensively damaged buildings would be unreinforced masonry, the study estimates. Carey also pointed out that all of the projected deaths would come in "URM's," as the buildings are called.
"This is a good earthquake for us because it is not the big, bad one," Carey said.
Walter J. Arabasz, director of the University of Utah's seismograph stations, said the likelihood of a 6.0 earthquake in the Salt Lake Valley is roughly 20 percent in the next 50 years, or about 1 in 250.
In Wells, the Feb. 21 earthquake caused significant damage, and the community continues to recover from the quake and its aftershocks. For weeks emergency officials from Utah and earthquake experts from the University of Utah monitored the scene to help out and to look for lessons that would apply here.
Wells had no deaths. The Salt Lake Valley, Utah's population center where just over 1 million people live, is unlikely to be that lucky. Wells' population is about 1,346.
Steve Miner, of Associated Food Stores, said the grocery cooperative, which supplies the only major supermarket in Wells, said within 13 hours of the earthquake, Stewart's Food Town was providing the community food and supplies. He will give the keynote address at the Ogden conference today and talk about lessons learned from the Wells quake.
"It heightened our sensitivity and awareness to the need for emergency response and preparedness," he said.