Abstract

Two days after the University of Utah Seismograph Stations (UUSS) staff were required to leave campus and work remotely, an Mw 5.7 earthquake struck the Salt Lake Valley near the town of Magna, Utah. This event was the largest instrumentally recorded earthquake in the Salt Lake Valley and the largest earthquake ever felt by most residents. The timing of this event—at the start of a lockdown in response to the COVID‐19 pandemic—made the UUSS response to this earthquake an extra challenge. Other factors such as a toxic plume caused by the ground shaking, inclement weather, and a mountain lion also impacted the work. The response tested the continuity of operations plan that had been in place since 2007, response protocols, and communications with partners and the public. Overall, the UUSS earthquake response was successful: A valuable and arguably unprecedented dataset of strong ground motions from normal faulting was generated, magnitudes and locations of thousands of earthquakes were shared in a timely fashion, unfounded rumors and general questions were promptly responded to via traditional and social media, and initial scientific results were submitted for publication.

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