Hill Air Force Base: Detonation at test range may have caused quake-like shaking along Wasatch Front

The Air Force detonates a solid-rocket motor June 2, 2015, at the Utah Test and Training Range in Utah. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah, Aug. 31, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Some residents in Weber and Davis counties thought they felt an earthquake rumble through the area Monday just a little past noon. On Monday night, Hill Air Force Base explained what really may have happened.

“There was a large detonation operation at the Utah Test and Training Range at 12:11 p.m. today that may have been the cause of the shaking and rumbling that local residents noticed this afternoon,” said a news release from Hill’s Office of Public Affairs.

The purpose of the detonation was to destroy a rocket motor and the solid propellant of a Navy ballistic missile.

The Air Force takes atmospheric readings to check several factors, including wind speed and direction, before detonations, and the data are entered into a sound model to determine if conditions are acceptable, the news release explains.

The detonation will be delayed if the model predicts the noise would be louder than permitted levels along the Wasatch front.

“With the variability of upper atmospheric weather conditions this time of the year, the model does not always accurately predict sound levels along the Wasatch Front,” Michelle Cottle, chief of the 75th Civil Engineer Group’s Environmental Branch, stated in the news release. “We had something similar happen in 2014 and in 2017.”

On the web page for the large detonation program, it says a series of large detonation operations will last through the end of September at the range.

“The destruction of the motors is occurring to eliminate aged propellant, and as part of international treaties to reduce the number of ballistic missiles,” the web page says.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here