According to a recent report written by the seismograph stations at the University of Utah, seismologists, geologists and engineers are in fundamental agreement that "the chance of a large earthquake in the Wasatch Front region during the next 50 years is about one in five."
The devastation caused by the earthquake in Armenia in 1988 was primarily as a result of the collapse of modern buildings. Over 30,000 people were killed. That earthquake measured 6.9 on the Richter scale.In 1989, California suffered a severe earthquake rated at 7.0 on the Richter scale. Part of Interstate 880 in Oakland collapsed, downtown Santa Cruz was ravaged, an upper roadway span of the Bay Bridge fell and many houses and buildings were destroyed. Fortunately, the death toll was reported to be less than 100 people, with over 4,000 people injured, and over 13,000 people displaced from their homes.
Wen these earthquakes occurred, there seemed to be high anxiety rampant throughout our community; many people were concerned what the consequences would be should an earthquake of such a magnitude strike the Wasatch Fault.
Unfortunately, however, as time passed, so has the excitement of this threat. Action has still not taken place to prepare our homes for an imminent earthquake.
"Most residential buildings along the Wasatch are not adequately constructed to withstand the level of seismic force that has occurred in history, for the area." As former director of the Salt Lake City Planning Commission, Albert Blair expresses his concern over the threat to life when another high-magnitude earthquake occurs.
Many homeowners are not aware of how they can better prepare their homes to withstand a high-magnitude earthquake. Further, it can be very expensive for each homeowner to retrofit his or her home to a standard that is likely to offer earthquake safety.
Two fundamental measures can be taken immediately, however. Fist, add foundation bolts. This will keep your house on its foundation during an earthquake. Next, sheath cripple walls. This will prevent your house from falling off its foundation during an earthquake. Details as to how to take these steps can be furnished by the Salt Lake County Planning Division, county geologist or I will be happy to send out this information if you will send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to me at the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.
These two measures, however, don't take care of the entire problem. Both public officials and homeowners will need to work together on this matter. Potential plans will be further discussed in forthcoming issues.
It is critical that the residents of the Wasatch Front raise their consciousness on this issue. Earthquakes strike at any time without warning. We must take action now to be better prepared when it happens.