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AZGS: Better Technology Helping Detect More Arizona Earthquakes

earthquake events map
(Photo courtesy of Arizona Geological Survey)
More than 60 earthquake events have occurred in northwest Arizona since March 28, 2016.

If you've heard about more earthquakes in Arizona lately, credit advanced seismic detection technology from the Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS).

On Tuesday, the AZGS reported more than 60 earthquake events have occurred in northwest Arizona since March 28.

Lee Allison, state geologist and director of the AZGS, said Arizona has probably had swarms in the past, but it is only in the last several years that equipment has been in place to detect them.

"In recent years, we've been able to deploy a network of seismometers across the state, and working with similar networks in Utah and Nevada, we are now able to monitor small earthquakes in parts of state where we never knew what was going on before," he said in a YouTube video released by the AZGS.

MORE: Live Map: Arizona Earthquakes In The Past 30 Days

This recent cluster of quakes has been recorded in the southern end of the Intermountain Seismic Belt, which stretches from western Montana to south of the Utah border. Residents have been feeling the quakes, but they haven't been large enough to cause damage, said Allison. The largest event was a 3.8 magnitude in Littlefield on May 5.

Allison said the earthquake swarm in the area is ongoing.

Seismic Activity In Arizona

This time-lapse video from AZGS shows recorded seismic activity in Arizona from 1852 to 2011. According to AZGS, the increase in activity in the last decade is due to improved monitoring.

Arizona Science Desk reporter Melissa Sevigny contributed to this report.

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Kerry Fehr-Snyder is an award-winning journalist with more than 30 years of print experience and an emphasis on science and medical reporting. She honed her understanding of science journalism during a yearlong Knight Foundation fellowship at MIT for science and technology writers. There, she audited classes at MIT and Harvard in a variety of courses, including evolutionary biology, astrophysics and biotechnology during the race to map the human genome. For fun, she took a class sculling on the muddy Charles River, where she gained an appreciation of the laws of physics. During her long reporting career at The Arizona Republic, she mentored and edited younger journalists. Later, she wrote and designed the monthly medical-marijuana newsletter for the Arizona Department of Health Services and its 70,000-plus certified cardholders. Most recently, she was the associate editor for the San Tan Sun News, a community newspaper in south Chandler that is produced by Times Media. While there, she edited freelance stories and assigned news stories and features, while also editing the Scottsdale Airpark News and other Times' publications. Fehr-Snyder is a near-native of Tempe, where she earned degrees in journalism and economics from Arizona State University.