Quakes Behavior "A Puzzle"

By  | 

Those who live in the Somersett/Mogul area have been feeling a swarm of small quakes for weeks. Thursday, much of the Truckee Meadows felt what they've been experiencing.

Miles away at the university's seismology lab, people who do this for a living have been monitoring the Somersett-Mogul swarm with curious onlookers peering over their shoulder and sometimes getting an impromptu lecture. The heliographs, especially the one attached to a station on Verdi peak, show a restless landscape.

The swarm is revealing new features in the geology underneath this area, but there's little mystery about what's happening. University seismologist Dr. Glenn Biasi says it's essentially one block moving past the other like two trains passing. It isn't clear whether they're watching some sort of subterranean relay, one large fault connecting with another, but there is something unusual going on.

"Swarms are common," Biasi says, "but usually a quake is followed by a number of smaller ones. Here we've seen an increase in intensity." Biasi says, to his knowledge, it's the first time this kind of behavior has been recorded in Nevada, but he says there's little reason to it's building to some big climax.

"Do we know if anything larger is coming? Everything we know would indicate that there isn't, but it is unusual. It's a puzzle. The earth is definitely on the move, when and how it will end is up for grabs."

Biasi admits the kind of unusual escalating strength they've been seeing is unsettling to the public. And he says it's always wise for the public to be prepared.

Biasi is encouraging people to visit the website did you feel it? It's a place where the general public can go to report earthquakes. Hundreds have reported since this swarm began and the entries go into a database for seismologists to use later.