Minor quakes shake area — are you ready for a big one?

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A 3.6 magnitude earthquake hit northeast of Reno on Wednesday, yet while minor earthquakes rarely cause damage, would you have known what to do in the event of a larger earthquake?

The best way to prepare for an earthquake is to know how to react quickly. To protect yourself during an earthquake, the Great Nevada ShakeOut recommends using the Drop, Cover, and Hold On method. “Drop” means dropping to your knees, “Cover” means protecting your head and neck with one arm and bend over to protect your stomach and chest and taking cover beneath a table or desk, and “Hold On” means finding a sturdy object, like a table leg, to hold on to.

“Holding onto the object you are using for cover can prevent it from moving away as the ground is shaking, leaving you uncovered,” said Kyren Bogolub, network seismologist with the Nevada Seismological Laboratory.

Bogolub and the university offer advice for residents in Nevada.

• If you’re unable to find something to take cover under, get close to an interior wall and protect your head and neck with both arms. If you use a wheelchair or walker, lock the wheels or set the brake and bend over and cover your head and neck with your arms and hands. Holding a book or other object over your head to protect it is also an option.

• Additional steps to take to prepare for an earthquake include identifying and securing items in your home or office that could be shaken off the walls or ceilings, preparing a disaster kit, having a plan for reuniting with family and identifying a space’s earthquake weaknesses will mitigate hazards. Standing in a doorway is not recommended.

As massive earthquakes rocked Turkey and Morocco earlier this year, and a slew of seismic activity continues to impact Afghanistan, the specter of earthquakes has been at the forefront of peoples’ minds.

“It’s important to remember that Nevada is earthquake country, despite Alaska and California getting a lot of attention” said Bill Savran, the network manager for the Nevada Seismological Laboratory. "It’s important to have a plan for when the 'big one' hits."

Though it’s been nearly 20 years since Nevada has had a significantly damaging earthquake, Savaran said Nevada is one of the most seismically active states with a small cluster of earthquakes happening near the Spanish Springs neighborhood over the past week.

The strongest earthquake in years occurred in May 2020 in west-central Nevada, and two of the strongest earthquake’s in the state’s history rocked Fallon and the surrounding area.

The strongest earthquake to strike Nevada in 65 years rattled the central part of the closed U.S. 95, the main artery from Reno to Las Vegas, for more than nine hours.

The magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck 37 miles west of Tonopah at 4:03 a.m. followed by a series of aftershocks felt throughout the region. The epicenter was near Coaldale with a depth recorded at 1.7 miles. More than 800 aftershocks were recorded by both the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Nevada Seismological Lab at the University of Nevada, Reno

Churchill County, though, not only felt the 2020 earthquake but also experienced five major earthquakes within an eight-month period in 1954. The largest quake happened on Aug. 23, 1954, when it rattled Stillwater with a magnitude 6.8 and caused an additional 33 miles of surface rupture. Reports indicated the three earthquakes caused considerable damage in Fallon to numerous commercial buildings and houses.

Another double earthquake occurred on Dec. 16 in the Dixie Valley – Fairview Peak area. At 3:07 a.m. a magnitude 7.1 tremor occurred near Fairview Peak and less than 5 minutes later, a magnitude 6.9 shake struck Dixie Valley. The strongest quake between 1954 and the Coaldale earthquake came on Feb. 21, 2008, when a magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck Wells, causing to damage to about 700 structures.

Several tremblors have been reported near the Nevada-California border during the past four years.

Two major earthquakes with magnitudes of 6.4 and 7.1 and a 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.

In July 2021, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake with its epicenter near Walker, Calif., rolled through a two-state area causing minor damage and frayed nerves. Residents in the tri-area communities of Fallon, Fernley and Silver Springs reported a rolling motion and glass clinking when the earthquake struck in the late afternoon.


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