University of Nevada, Reno Seismological Lab reports earthquake is largest in Nevada since 1954
RENO, Nev. – Reports of damage have come in following the magnitude 6.5 earthquake located in a remote area 36 miles west of Tonopah, Nevada at 4:03 a.m. PDT on May 15.
The Nevada News Group reported that in an email to the Lahontan Valley News both the Mineral and Nye County Sheriff’s Offices said U.S. 95 has been damaged and is closed while deputies assess the damage to the major north-south highway.
Other reports said groceries have been knocked off the shelves at several Tonopah stores.
The Esmeralda County Sheriff’s Office reports damage at mile maker 89 in Esmeralda County. The Sheriff’s Office, Nevada Highway Patrol and Nevada Department of Transportation are on the scene. The Sheriff’s Office said several areas of the highway have damage caused from the magnitude 6.5 earthquake.
The Mineral County Sheriff’s Office reports no damage in the small towns of Luning and Mina, which are near the major earthquake’s epicenter at Coaldale. The two towns are south of Hawthorne on U.S. Highway 95.
Nye County Sheriff’s Office posted a video on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/nyecountysheriff/videos/719589245517495/.
Northern Nevada and the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada have been active with a number of earthquakes and aftershocks since March when a 4.5 magnitude tremor shook the Prison Hill area southeast of Carson City, and dozens of aftershocks continued for several days.
“This is the largest earthquake in Nevada since the 1954 Fairview Peak (magnitude 7.1) and Dixie Valley (magnitude 6.8) earthquakes – basically ending a streak of 66 years for quakes in the mid-M6 range,” Graham Kent, director of the Nevada Seismological Lab said.
Two major earthquakes with magnitudes of 6.4 and 7.1 and series of aftershocks near Ridgecrest, Calif., over the Fourth of July weekend in 2019 not only disrupted everyday life for the town and surrounding area but also ceased most operations at the massive Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake 325 miles southwest of Fallon.
Six aftershocks larger than magnitude 4.5 occurred in the hour following the May 15 mainshock, the largest being a magnitude 5.1 approximately 23 minutes after the mainshock. Seismologists said the aftershocks could continue. Initial aftershock forecasts estimate that there is a 4% chance of an aftershock larger than magnitude 6.5 in the week following this event. Felt aftershocks are expected.
This area is an active seismic region. This earthquake is the largest in the region since a 1934 magnitude 6.5 earthquake approximately 24 miles to the northwest and a 1932 magnitude 6.8 earthquake approximately 30 miles to the north, and experienced a magnitude 5.1 earthquake in 2013.
About two dozen earthquakes in the magnitude 5 range have occurred within 65 miles of this event over the past 50 years, mostly to the west and south.
Updated information for activity associated with this earthquake is available at http://www.seismo.unr.edu.
The earthquake occurred in the Walker Lane of Nevada, a geologic feature associated with the eastern California shear zone that roughly parallels the California-Nevada border. The Walker Lane is a 60-mile-wide zone of active faults that straddles the Nevada and California border. The Walker Lane starts in the Mojave Desert in southern California and extends to the east of the Sierra Nevada, north through western Nevada in the Reno area, and then into northeast California.
The Nevada-Eastern California region has a history of large damaging earthquakes and citizens should always consider earthquake preparedness. Information is available at the Great Nevada Shakeout website or at www.readywashoe.com.
The Nevada Seismological Laboratory, a public service department at the University of Nevada, Reno, is a member of the USGS Advanced National Seismic System (http://www.anss.org) and operates a network of about 150 real-time seismograph stations throughout the region providing earthquake information to Nevada citizens, the USGS, and local and state officials.