Unabated Quakes Shake Northwest Nevada

Aug 11, 2015

Scientists in the Nevada Seismological Laboratory placed additional earthquake sensors in and around the Sheldon Wildlife Refuge in northwest Nevada. A swarm of earthquakes there has been active for more than a year.
Credit University of Nevada, Reno

Seismologists say a year-long swarm of earthquakes in northwest Nevada has shown no signs of slowing down, and the potential is increasing for an even larger one. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey reports. 

The Nevada Seismological Lab have detected more than 5,600 earthquakes since last summer in the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge near the Oregon line. 

Ken Smith is a seismologist at the lab. He says it’s a rural area, but some ranchers and residents have felt them. 

"We've had 18 earthquakes larger than magnitude 4.0 within the last year in that same very compacted area of earthquakes," he says. 

In fact, three of these higher-magnitude quakes have occurred since last month. 

He says the sequence appears to be similar to one that occurred in Reno in 2008. Frequently, these swarms can be followed by a larger quake, though it's impossible to predict.

"It would not be surprising to see a larger one up there, but fortunately we haven't gotten to that point,” he says. “Hopefully this will start tailing off."

Nevada is the third most seismically active state in the country.