Who Will Be Shaken Up Next?

By: Auburn Hutton Email
By: Auburn Hutton Email

Residents of Mogul felt another earthquake Wednesday night, and this time it measured out at 3.2 magnitude. It's one of many quakes felt in that area in the past 20 days or so. And while nothing it's near the size of the 6.0 quake that destroyed parts of Wells last month, many are wondering what is next.

Since the Wells earthquake, the activity of our state's fault lines have been brought to the forefront. Before Wells, there hasn't been a very large earthquake in our state since 1994. That's when one hit the Minden-Gardnerville area.

Now the question on everyone's mind is, when could we see the next big quake?

For now, all bets seem to be on an area just five miles from Reno. The unincorporated town of Mogul has been shaken by dozens of small earthquakes in the past month, most of them averaging around 3.0.

A group of geologists and earthquake specialists from UNR have been studying the quake patterns since they started.

"Most of the big earthquakes we've had in the state have been proceeded by fore shocks, so if this were to turn into a large earthquake, it'd be no surprise," said John Anderson, Director of Nevada's Seismological Laboratory.

However, Anderson says it would also be no surprise if the quakes just went away. He says seismology experts know there will be another big earthquake in Nevada, but there's no way to predict where or when.

The 6.0 quake in Wells is just one example of the unpredictability of our state's fault lines. State Geologist Jon Price says the town of Wells had less than a ten percent chance of a large earthquake hitting, before the ground started shaking in late February...but it happened anyway. The current probability for our area is much higher.

"The chance of a big earthquake, say magnitude 6.0 or greater, occurring in the Reno-Carson City area in the next 50 years is about 50 percent," said Price.

So we might soon get a large earthquake here in Northern Nevada...or we might not. While that probably isn't quite the reassurance you're looking for, scientists say it's the best they can do. The earth is unpredictable...but you don't have to be.

"We really have to walk a thin line between being prepared and being paranoid. My personal belief is that the more we prepare, the more we have the confidence to face the uncertainties we have in life," said Washoe County Emergency Manager Aaron Kenneston.

There are a lot of things you can do to prepare, just in case a large earthquake does hit here, starting with some really simple things like securing a bookcase to the wall, or packing an emergency evacuation kit. It's one of those things that may seem like a hassle, but if there is a big earthquake here, like the one in Wells, you'll be glad you did it.

Anderson says that among the southern 48 states, we are only second to California as far as large earthquakes go. Geologists say there are fault lines, literally, on every mountain range that you see around you in the Sierra...and many of those are considered hazardous.

The lesson is, sooner or later, we are going to see another big earthquake here. It's inevitable.


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