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UNR Lab: Thousands Of Earthquakes Strike Nevada In 2015


Nevada Seismological Lab

Thousands of earthquakes rattle Nevada every year.

University of Nevada, Reno researchers say more than 17,500 earthquakes struck Nevada last year.

The school’s Nevada Seismological Laboratory says that total includes the magnitude 4.8 earthquake that shook Caliente last January, but was felt throughout Las Vegas.

While that sounds like a lot Graham Kent, director of the Nevada Seismological Laboratory in Reno, says we're actually in a relatively quiet period when it comes to seismic activity in the state.

"We're certainly busy but we can also envision a time when we're even busier yet," he said.

Kent pointed out that Nevada is the third most seismically active state in the country. He said Nevada is in an "earthquake drought" that has lasted about 60 years but when a quake of magnitude 6 or more hits that will change.

"It's not even a matter of when," he said, "We expect to have large earthquakes in the state."

According to Kent, Nevada earthquakes tend to cluster, which means when a larger quake hits it triggers several more quakes in the area. Researchers believe the large cluster of quakes in the 1950s allowed for the current hiatus.  

"But then when we get the next large earthquake there is still a significant chance that we just won't have one but we'll have multiple ones," he said.

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Kent said in this period of relative calm the state needs to take advantage by building up an economic resilience program.

"When the next magnitude 6 or 6.5 or 7 strikes near or around an urban area, we don't want that one singular event to derail our entire economy of the state," he said. 

He pointed to California and Oregon as two states facing similar situations that are preparing now for a quake that could do major damage to an urban area.

Kent doesn't believe it is just governments that need to prepare but individuals should be ready by practicing what to do in a quake, and buying earthquake insurance. He also says business should have an economic plan for the devastation of an earthquake. 


Updated earthquake activity information is available at

While earthquake preparedness information is available at the Great Nevada Shakeout.




Graham Kent, director of the Nevada Seismological Laboratory, and professor in the Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno. 

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