Carson Quake Swarm Reminds Us This Is Earthquake Country

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CARSON CITY, NV - More than 120 quakes have been detected in the Carson City/ Carson Valley area in recent days. Most have been too slight to be felt, but the strongest were reported as a quick jolt.

Those who work at the state Emergency Operations Center in Carson City experienced it first hand, but they would be keeping an eye on this swarm if it was happening at the other end of the state. That's why this center with its huge operations room is here.

This room is more often activated during floods and wildfires, the other two natural disasters most likely to strike in Nevada.

But as we've been reminded once again, this is earthquake country and Nevada has seen some big ones, the most damaging in the past century, a series that hit the Fallon area in 1954.

Smaller quakes are recorded, but rarely felt, all the time.

What was worrisome about this bunch was its location, near a large population center and, though this is still under study, perhaps associated with one of the area's major fault systems, the Genoa fault.

The Genoa fault runs along the base of the Carson Range from Carson Valley through Jacks Valley and into Carson City.

With a potential of a 7 point 0 quake or stronger, the Genoa fault poses a considerable potential risk.

"When it's so close to a known fault that is substantial it gives seismologists and emergency management people pause," says Chris Smith, Chief of Emergency Management.

And that's not just any community at the north end of the Genoa Fault. It's the State Capitol and all that it contains. In fact, one of the functions at risk in a major quake is the Emergency Management Center itself.

Smith and his staff are prepared for that. They are prepared to operate, coordinating response from five other locations around the state. Coincidentally, they were in the midst of an exercise testing that capability this past week.

The swarm seems to be abating, but even if it fades it has had one impact: reminding us of the destructive potential in the earth below our feet.