Emergency Response

Since 1850, at least 6,075 fatalities, an undetermined number of injuries, and billions of dollars of economic losses from geologic hazards have been documented in Utah. When a geology-related emergency occurs, local emergency managers and first responders need clear, unbiased scientific information related to the initial safety of the site. The Utah Geological Survey (UGS) is tasked with answering a few questions after a geologic emergency.

  • Is the site likely safe for first responders and others to enter and work?

  • What geologic information is needed to reduce the risk?


    What geologic information is needed to reduce the risk?

  • Is geologic monitoring needed to increase safety?

  • Are additional events likely to occur within a short time frame?


    Are additional events likely to occur within a short time frame?

  • Are other nearby areas at risk from geologic hazards?


What Emergency Response Does the UGS Provide?

The UGS Geologic Hazards Program has experienced engineering geologists who are available to provide assistance at any time to local governments and the Utah Department of Emergency Management (UDEM) when a geologic emergency occurs. For particularly significant emergency events, responses are managed from the UGS Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at the Utah Department of Natural Resources Building in Salt Lake City. The UGS works in conjunction with the state UDEM EOC at the Utah State Capitol, the State Hazards Mitigation Team, various local governments, and other agencies. If mobile phone communication is unavailable, the UGS can use radio communication between the various EOCs and field staff throughout the central Wasatch Front.

After the initial emergency response, local governments are often left with uncertainty regarding the right steps to take for the emergency event over time, how to minimize the impact to residents and others, how to reduce the risk of the current event, and whether other areas are at risk and what can be done to reduce the risk of future events. The UGS provides unbiased geologic advice to local governments and the public after an event to help them make informed decisions on the potential for additional, future events, possible mitigation measures to reduce risk, and on restricting public access to specific areas, if warranted, to protect public safety.

No Utah local governments have engineering geologists experienced with geologic hazards on staff, so the services provided by the UGS are critical during and after geologic hazard events. As a non-regulatory scientific agency, the UGS provides unbiased, objective geologic information to local governments and the public, so informed decisions can be made to protect the public and others from geologic hazards, including life safety, injury, and economic impacts.

Recent Geologic Emergency Response Events

November 2017, Spring Creek Road Landslide, Riverdale

2017, Box Elder County Flooding and Landslides

August 2014, Parkway Drive Landslide, North Salt Lake

December 2013, 368 West Main Street Rockfall, Rockville

2012, Seeley Fire Debris Flows, Manti-LaSal National Forest

2010, 274 Main Street Rockfall, Rockville

2009, Logan Bluff Landslide, Logan

1998, Springhill Landslide, North Salt Lake

For local governments experiencing a geology-related emergency event, contact the UGS directly at (801) 537-3300, or after-hours and on weekends, contact the Utah Division of Emergency Management (UDEM) through your emergency manager and the UDEM on-call duty officer who will contact the UGS.