On Sunday night, residents across Phoenix reported shaking. Three earthquakes were felt in nearby Black Canyon City. The largest of these took place at approximately 11:30p.m. and was reported to have a magnitude of 4.1.
Although there have been no reports of severe damage, residents of areas ranging from Black Canyon, to Camp Verde, across metro Phoenix and up to Queen Creek were left feeling jolted and stunned.
Scientists have yet to identify the causal fault line, according to Michael Conway who belongs to the Arizona Geological Survey. When contacted on Monday, he also stated that aftershocks will be felt through the next few days, although he stated many of them might be too insignificant to be felt. According to residents of the area, the largest quake sounded much like a soundless distant explosion. Lauren Kuby, Tempe City’s Councilwoman, who lives in central Tempe which is near Alameda Drive and College Avenue said the following:
“I just heard this rumble and this movement and I thought it was my dog falling off the bed. It felt like a rumble and a slight movement and then like a thud.”
Social media was also full of posts regarding the earthquake. Posts included that of Norris Nordvold. He and his wife and his wife were up late and they felt the rumble when the earthquake took place. Regarding the quake, he posted on Facebook saying:
“I was on the couch and my wife was at the table and our house definitely moved at 11:31 p.m.,” he said. “We were babysitting our granddaughter … and she woke up, too.”
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quakes took place mainly around the Agua Fria River which is a few miles north of Black Canyon City. Black Canyon City itself is situated about 20 miles to the north of Phoenix. It is a community which is bisected by the I-17 and has a population of roughly 2,600. Prior to the opening of the highway, it was a settlement on the beautifully scenic route from Phoenix to Prescott. Now, however Black Canyon City, much like Bumble Bee and Cordes Junction, is simply another name on the road signs indicating the route towards Flagstaff.
As Arizona is situated well away from the major fault lines dotting the West Coast, earthquake activity over the years has been a rare occurrence. In spite of the rarity of quakes in these parts, Sunday’s occurrence was far from the first. In December 2014, a 4.7-magnitude quake took place in the Oak Creek Canyon fault, close to Sedona. In June of the same year others quakes occurred near the Arizona-New Mexico border.
In 2009, a more memorable series of powerful earthquakes occurred in Baja, California. Their magnitudes ranges from 5.0 up to 6.9 and their jolts were felt as far as Phoenix. The rumbles caused by the 2009 earthquakes were a lot easier to feel due to the fact that they occurred at approximately 11 o’clock on a Monday morning when most residents in the area were up and about in their offices, schools and homes.
Due to the fact that Sunday night’s tremors took place when many were in bed and sleeping and also due to their lower magnitude, many residents did not even feel the quake.
In spite of this, however, Sunday’s earthquakes were noteworthy for two reasons. First of all, a 3.2 magnitude foreshock was reported at 9 p.m. prior to the largest quake. This foreshock is itself uncommon. Secondly, the effect of the quake may have been more pronounced due to the fact that it hit close to the Earth’s surface. Sunday’s largest jolt was measured at 6.5 kilometers below the Earth’s surface. Experts have not determined, as yet, which fault line had instigated Sunday’s quakes.
According to the USGC, sensors also registered a 4.3 quake off of northern California in the Pacific as well as a 5.1 quake near El Salvador. However, Sunday’s 4.1 quake was the largest to be recorded in North America. While Sunday’s quakes were not destructive, they were disconcerting. Black Canyon city’s Fire Department was inundated with calls regarding the earthquake. Many were curious as to the cause but luckily, there were no reports of injuries or damages.