Sierra seismic hot spots | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Sierra seismic hot spots

Christina Nelson

Though earthquakes can be unpredictable, a map released by California and Nevada researchers indicates Northern Nevada and the Lake Tahoe Basin have a good chance of experiencing a major earthquake in the next half-century.

The document – released this week at the annual Seismological Society of America meeting in Incline Village by the California Geological Survey, the Nevada Seismological Laboratory and the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology – measures the possibility of an earthquake in portions of eastern California and western Nevada.

Updated about every six years, the map is used by planners and government officials to determine building codes, said Michael Reichle, chief seismologist with the California Geological Survey.

Using soil information and a model developed by the U.S. Geological Survey, researchers are constantly updating the earthquake potential document.

“It’s a continuing process because we rely on geological and seismological research to get the information so we can make the maps,” Reichle said.

According to the map, which shows regions that have a 10 percent chance of experiencing an earthquake, areas just south of Reno and the Minden-Gardnerville area have a high potential for earthquake activity.

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The map shows areas that have a 10 percent chance of feeling the effects of an earthquake in the next 50 years, said Chris Wills, supervising geologist with the California agency.

“Each of these products along the way are snapshots of what we know about seismic hazard,” Wills said.

Though researchers can say where an earthquake is most likely to occur, they can’t say exactly when one might hit.

“What these maps do is show the areas where an earthquake would cause the most damage,” Reichle said.

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