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3 Quakes Hit Near California, Nevada State Line


Earthquake experts in Reno say the series of moderate temblors that struck early this morning in a remote area near the California-Nevada line were felt more than 200 miles away in the Bay Area.

Graham Kent heads the Seismological Laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno.

"It kind of brings us back to when Nevada was a little more seismically active that we had these larger earthquakes, even larger than these and they came in multiple chains of twos and threes," says Kent. "So that kind of made me think back to the good ol' days of 1954 and prior."

A 5.7 temblor struck just after midnight, followed by another 5.7 quake four minutes later in a remote area southeast of Lake Tahoe. A magnitude 5.5 quake hit the same area just after 1 a.m.

The quakes were followed by dozens of smaller aftershocks, including two in the magnitude four range and at least a dozen larger than magnitude three.

Kent says today's earthquakes are not uncommon. 

"These things are cyclical and they happen in spurts and then you can have quiet periods and earthquake droughts," says Kent. "So maybe we broke a little bit of the drought here for earthquakes. Luckily this one wasn't under an urban center."

The epicenter of today's temblors was 18 miles southwest of Hawthorne, Nevada. The quakes erupted on a fractured fault line under the Northern Nevada desert. 

"That area is pretty busted up which might explain why you had similar sized earthquakes that have kind of ruptured bits and pieces of a larger fault zone," says Kent. "There's definitely tons of aftershocks coming in. The question is whether it will rupture another large piece of the fault line and get something in the five or six range. That's always a concern."

So far there are no reports of damage or injuries.

Steve Milne

Morning Edition Anchor & Reporter

Steve is the Morning Edition anchor for Capital Public Radio. He covers stories on a wide range of topics including: business, education, real estate, agriculture and music.  Read Full Bio 

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