Seismologists, geologists brief media on recent earthquakes

3/27/2008 - By: John Trent

Scientists from the Nevada Seismological Laboratory and the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology gathered the local media for a briefing Thursday regarding the recent series of small earthquakes that have occurred in and around the Mogul area of Reno.

Reporters from all three television stations, plus KOH radio and the Reno Gazette-Journal were on hand in Room 401 of the Scrugham Engineering building to hear the most recent information and data associated with the Mogul sequence, which began on Feb. 28 and continued at approximately 8:42 p.m. on Wednesday, March 26 with a magnitude 3.2 earthquake.

Nevada scientists, as well as representatives from the State of Nevada’s Department of Public Safety and Washoe County Emergency Management also offered safety tips for homeowners and business owners throughout Nevada. Northeastern Nevada has been rocked with a series of earthquakes, including a magnitude 6.0 event that occurred near the small town of Wells on Feb. 21.

“Nobody is able to predict earthquakes in the short-term,” said John Anderson, director of the Nevada Seismological Laboratory. “But with all of these earthquakes in the news of late, it’s a good time for everybody to be prepared.”

Anderson noted that Nevada is one of the most seismically active states, traditionally ranking in the top two or three. After a period of relative quiet for the state – 2007 was the third-lowest year in the state’s history for seismic activity, culminating a three-year period of low rates – 2008 has been much more active.

In Mogul, four magnitude 3.0 or better events have been recorded since Feb. 28. Most of the events have been relatively shallow, about two to three miles deep, meaning that “many people are feeling these smaller events,” said Nevada research seismologist Ken Smith.

Smith said that the Nevada Seismological Laboratory has established a number of monitoring stations in the Mogul area of west Reno.

Such earthquake activity should not be a surprise, added Jon Price, director of the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology.

“We have faults everywhere in Nevada,” Price said. “Most of these faults have some earthquake potential. We don’t know exactly when these earthquakes are going to occur … we can’t predict earthquakes the way we predict hurricanes.”

Still, the public can take a number of commonsense and straightforward steps in order to prepare for an earthquake, said Craig dePolo, research geologist with the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology. He said that the Wells earthquake was the state’s 23rd “major” event of 6.0 or greater since 1850.

“So when people are prepared, it can make a huge difference when major earthquakes occur,” he said.

To that end, dePolo encouraged the public to take 10 minutes to look around their homes or their offices to decide, “Is there something I can do to make this room safer (in the event of an earthquake)?” He also said Nevada residents should “take a few hours this weekend … and do that fix that you’ve been thinking about. This is the time to just do it.”

There are many ways individuals can make their homes and businesses safer, dePolo said. Among them: preparing a disaster kit to always be at the ready, with up to five days provisions of food and water; strapping down a home’s water heater; generally securing all heavy items.

“There is a wealth of information out there (on earthquake preparedness), and we encourage the public to seek it out,” said Aaron Kenneston, emergency manager for Washoe County.

Added Rick Martin, recovery and mitigation manager for the Nevada Department of Public Safety: “The thing we like to stress is that you can never be completely prepared, but you do need to try to be prepared as much as you possibly can.”


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