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Tonya Papanikolas reporting The earthquake in Pakistan is forcing many people to wonder how prepared Utah would be for a similar-size quake. It's possible we could have one that big here in Utah.
The drums and needles at the University of Utah's seismograph stations are always recording data.
Jim Pechmann, Univ. of Utah Seismologist: "Well, that's a little earthquake right there. Those are little earthquakes that you're looking at."
Squiggly lines on the seismograh may be Pakistan's aftershocks. The original 7.6 quake is on the high end of what seismologists expect Utah could eventually experience.
Jim Pechmann, Univ. of Utah Seismologist: “Generally it's 7.5, plus or minus point two."
Seismologists say a quake that size could cause a couple thousand deaths in Utah and almost 30-billion dollars in damage.
Bob Carey State Earthquake Program Manager: “Traffic signals without power won't work, we'd probably see broken water mains and things like that. So travel around would be difficult in those first few days."
Older roads could break apart, and older homes as well.
Jim Pechmann: “Generally wood-frame houses that are bolted to foundation tend to do really well in earthquakes."
Bob Carey, State Earthquake Program Manager: “I think what you'll see in an event like this is much more damage in the older parts of salt lake county."
The state is currently retro-fitting many buildings like the Sate Capitol. They have plans in place for emergency response. If Utah has an earthquake... a "shake map" would automatically be sent to the Department of Emergency Services. The blue area of the map shows where the intense ground-shaking occurred.
Bob Carey, State Earthquake Program Manager: "We can then project what kind of damage is going to go along with that particular ground shaking."
That will help them determine where to send emergency responders, as the state would work to coordinate local and federal help.
The state says Utah is unique in how people respond to disasters. Officials expect those in damaged areas would go to stay with families in unaffected areas instead of needing a lot of government shelter.