Seismic activity in the Sunnyside mining district, Carbon and Emery Counties, Utah, during 1968

Open-File Report 70-115

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More than 20,000 local earth tremors were recorded by the seismic monitoring network in the Sunnyside mining district during 1968. This is about 40 percent of the number of tremors recorded by the network in 1967. In 1968 a total of 281 tremors were of sufficient magnitude to be located accurately--about 50 percent of the number of tremors in 1967 that were located accurately. As in previous years, nearly all the earth tremors originated near, or within a few thousand feet of, the mine workings. This distribution indicates that mine-induced stress changes caused most of the seismic activity. However, over periods of weeks and months there were significant changes in the distribution of seismic activity caused by tremors that were not directly related to mining but probably were caused by adjustment of natural stresses 6r by a complex combination of both natural and mine-induced stress changes. In 1968 the distribution of tremor hypocenters varied considerably with time, relative to active mining areas and to faults present in the mine workings. During the first 6 months, most tremors originated along or near faults that trend close to or through the active mine workings. However, in the last 6 months, the tremor hypocenters tended to concentrate in the rock mass closer to, or around, the active mining areas. This shift in concentration of seismic activity with time has been noted throughout the district many times since recording began in 1963, and is apparently caused by spontaneous releases of stored strain energy resulting from mine-induced stress changes. These spontaneous releases of strain energy, together with rock creep, apparently are the mechanism of adjustment within the rock mass toward equilibrium conditions, which are continually disrupted by mining. Although potentially hazardous bumps were rare in the Sunnyside mining district during 1968, smaller bumps and rock falls were more common in a given active mining area whenever hypocenters of larger-magnitude earth tremors concentrated near it.

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Seismic activity in the Sunnyside mining district, Carbon and Emery Counties, Utah, during 1968
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey,
27 p. ill., 4 col. maps ;29 cm.