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Earthquakes rattle central Arizona – Black Canyon City, Phoenix and environs

Earthquakes rattle central Arizona – Black Canyon City, Phoenix and environs
November 03
10:17 2015

Late Sunday night, three earthquakes rattled central Arizona, including Phoenix and environs. The three temblors, magnitude black canyon quake small pic(M) 3.2, M 4.1 and M 4.0, occurred approximately 3- to 11- miles north of Black Canyon City. The largest event, an M 4.1, occurred at 11:20 p.m. The earthquake(s) were felt from north of Flagstaff to south of Casa Grande, including most of central Arizona.

The U.S. Geological Survey initially located the epicenters and depth to focus. Using 15 Arizona-based seismometers from the Arizona Broadband Seismic Network and the Arizona Earthquake Information Center, Flagstaff, Arizona, Dr. Jeri Young (Research Geologist), refined the locations for the foreshock, main shock, and the large aftershock from the November 1st  Black Canyon City sequence of quakes (Table below).

The M3.2 foreshock was located at approximately 3 miles north of Black Canyon City at a very shallow depth, between 0.6 and 3 miles. The main shock was located approximately 11 miles NNE of Black Canyon City and occurred at approximately a 7 mile depth.  The largest aftershock an M 4.0 occurred only 20 minutes following the main shock at a depth of approximately 3 miles.

There have been multiple smaller aftershocks, but there are not enough seismometers close enough to the area to accurately locate them.  The closest station is located near Payson at about 40 miles, with the Wickenburg station being 55 miles away.

The closest known active fault is the Horseshoe Fault, located 22 miles SSE of the main shock.  The Black Canyon City Sequence has not generated a quake large enough to break the surface.  Aftershocks will continue for several months or more. Most aftershocks will go unfelt, but residents of Black Canyon City and environs should potentially anticipate small felt aftershocks.

Online Resources from the Arizona Geological Survey

Natural Hazards in Arizona – showing historic earthquake epicenters and young, active faults.

Geologic Map of Arizona – showing major geologic features and rock units.

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