Phoenix is not exactly known for its earthquakes. The desert metropolis is located 372 miles from Los Angeles and over 750 miles from San Francisco, the two American cities known for earth rattling activity. Nevertheless, our desert metropolis experienced three back to back earthquakes earlier this month that shook our residents and more importantly, frightened our pets.
On November 1 around 11:29 pm Arizona time, a 4.1 magnitude quake shook Phoenix and surrounding areas. It was followed by a 3.2 magnitude quake at 8:59 pm and a 4.0 magnitude quake at 11:49 pm. Several smaller aftershocks followed and Ryan Porter, a seismologist at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff expects more. “Earthquakes are pretty uncommon for Arizona” said Porter. But this does not mean that Arizona is completely immune. According to Porter, the activity was caused due to a pulling apart of the earth’s crust. Northeastern Arizona is located on what is known as the Colorado Plateau, a part of the earth that is considered somewhat stable. The plateau also covers much of Colorado, along with parts of Utah and New Mexico. The southern part of the state is on a “basin and range” landscape where valleys and basins give way to mountain ranges. In between these two formations is a “transition zone.” Much of Phoenix is located in this transitional area and this quake was likely caused by the two regions pulling away from each other.
A 4.1 magnitude quake is enough to notice. Though not as severe as past earthquakes in other parts of the US and the world, most Phoenix residents reported light shaking. The extent of the damage to infrastructure and personal belongs is not yet known.
Many Phoenix area residents also reported that their pets sensed the earthquake much more so than they did. Though dogs and cats have no way of sensing earthquakes before they happen, their keen sense of hearing and heightened level of alertness makes them capable of sensing vibrations before their human owners. Animal expert Dr. Grey Stafford told Phoenix’ Fox 10 news that one of his two dogs, 9 year old dog Venti, was sound asleep through the quake. However, his German Shepherd started roaming the house looking for her owners.
Other pet owners reported similar pet responses. Tempe, Arizona resident Harlan Cervantes keeps 7 Italian Greyhounds that he takes wild boar hunting in northern Texas. Though the breed is not known for its level of alertness, Cervantes said that all of his dogs noticed the quake right away. “This breed has above average intellect and hound instinct which is why they are great for boar hunting” noted Cervantes. “It is why they noticed the tremors. They packed up and started roaming the house like on a hunt.”
Experts suggest that in the event of an earthquake, cats and dogs will typically know where to hide to avoid falling debris. Cats especially are excellent at finding the safest place in the house. In addition, pet owners should remember to take basic common sense pet precautions, like keeping vaccinations up to date and microchipping their pets. Though most pets will be scared during the quake, these basic steps will ensure that they will stay safe during and after the occurrence.