Quake shakes region | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Quake shakes region

Sierra Sun staff reports

TRUCKEE – The quake that rattled the Sierra here early Monday morning wasn’t the first to shake the area – and it likely won’t be the last.

While the magnitude 4.0 quake, which hit at 3:38 a.m., was centered about 14 miles west of Truckee, experts say Truckee-Tahoe and Northern Nevada is prime earthquake country. The California-Nevada boundary area is second only to the California coast in earthquake activity, according to seismologists at the University Nevada Reno.

One of the largest fault systems in this region is the Carson Range fault system, which runs for 60 miles along the east face of the Carson Range from Reno to Markleeville, Heather Segale, of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, said in a July 2005 Lake Tahoe Report following a temblor last year.

That quake was centered three miles east of Truckee and weighed in at magnitude 4.8 to 5.0. It was the third earthquake of similar magnitude in the past six years in the Truckee area.

For reference, magnitude 3 and 4 earthquakes are commonly felt, but rarely cause damage, according to John McLaughlin, Sierra Sun columnist and author. Minor to moderate damage can accompany a magnitude 5 or 6 event, and major damage commonly occurs from earthquakes of magnitude 7 and greater.

Following last year’s spate of quakes, McLaughlin wrote that geologists have also warned that several faults that lie directly beneath Lake Tahoe are thought capable of generating a magnitude 7.1 quake and enough movement to produce tsunami waves exceeding 30 feet high. But he said scientists estimate the risk of a magnitude 7 quake under Lake Tahoe in the next 50 years to be between 3 and 4 percent, far less than the perennial dangers of forest fires and floods in the region.

Richard Schweickert, Ph.D., of the UNR geology department, has been studying faults in the Tahoe region since the mid-1990s.

Although Lake Tahoe has not had a large earthquake recently, Schweickert and his colleagues have mapped several previously undiscovered faults in the area and believe there are many others yet to be found.

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