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Another Earthquake Rattles Northwest Arizona Following A Swarm Of Small Events

Earthquake swarm
(Photo courtest of Arizona Geological Survey)
Earthquake swarm in Northwest Arizona.

For more than a week, a swarm of small earthquakes have rattled an area in the far northwestern part of the state. There was another event early Friday morning and this quake was stronger than all of the others.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injury, following the magnitude 3.4 earthquake which occurred early Friday morning… some 20 miles east of the other events. It’s unclear if this quake is related to the others or if it’s a stand-alone event. Michael Conway is with the Arizona Geological Survey. He says the quakes have been occurring in an area called the Basin and Range province.

"And that’s an area where the earth’s is slowly extending, pulling apart," explained Conway. "It’s a very slow extension, it’s not causing lots of large earthquakes like we might see along the San Andreas fault where we do have two plates slipping past one another, so this is extension on the North American continent."

He says this “pulling apart” will continue to generate small earthquakes, with the potential for a larger earthquake. Conway also doesn’t think these smaller quakes are foreshocks, which can occur  before a large seismic event… 

"But," he says,  "We can’t rule that out at this point in time and that’s why we follow these things closely. And we’re using data from the Nevada seismic observatory in Utah and the USGS, so we’re following a lot of different seismic networks in the area and we’re pulling data down from all of them to get a better handle on what’s happening."

Conway says that while there is the potential for a large earthquake, it would be very rare. Friday’s earthquake was larger than the recent quakes that began March 29 and have continued throughout the week.

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KJZZ senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.