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There Are No Earthquakes in Arizona

Myth or Reality?


Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images

I participated in a tour of one of our very popular local attractions, and at one point the tour guide mentioned to the group that there is no seismic activity in Arizona. I knew that it wasn't true!

One of the reasons so many people come to live in Arizona is because there are few natural disasters. Once they have lived through floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and California earthquakes they tend to seek out a location where they are less likely to have to evacuate their homes every other year.

Although earthquakes are rare in Arizona, and when they occur there usually isn't any devastation, they do happen. Earthquakes of a magnitude of between 2 and 3 are fairly common, mostly in the northern half of the state. On May 9, 2009 a 3.1 magnitude earthquake occurred near Cordes Lakes, Arizona. That's just about 80 miles from downtown Phoenix. In 1976 there was a 4.9 magnitude earthquake in Chino Valley, about 100 miles north of Phoenix. On June 28, 2014 the U.S. Geological Survey reported a magnitude 5.2 earthquake at about 10 p.m. centered in southeastern Arizona, about 35 miles east of Safford. Tremors were felt in Phoenix.

Northern Arizona University studies seismic activity in Arizona, and they have a map of Arizona faults. You can get information about all the recent earthquakes from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Bottom line: The statement that there is no seismic activity in Arizona is false. It is a myth. We do have earthquakes in Arizona, but they rarely, if ever, result in damage or injuries.

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