Earthquake swarm hits Reno area

Anybody who’s anybody who knows anything at all about earthquakes knows no one can predict when the next temblor will strike.
That said, on Friday, Jan. 12, the University of Nevada, Reno’s Seismological Laboratory reported an ongoing swarm of earthquakes near south Reno, in the area of the Mt. Rose highway and I-580. Since Thursday night, Jan. 11, more than 90 events have been located. The largest recorded are four magnitude 2 quakes. There have been no reports of damage, and about 38 residents reported feeling the small earthquakes.

“The activity notably increased late last night and this morning,” said Ken Smith, seismic network manager and associate director of the seismological lab. “We’re monitoring the swarm closely and updating local emergency management officials in case this sequence evolves to a larger, damaging earthquake.”

Updated information for activity associated with this earthquake is available at

The Nevada-Eastern California region has a history of large damaging earthquakes and citizens should always consider earthquake preparedness. Information is available at the Great Nevada Shakeout website, or at

“When we feel these small earthquakes, it’s nature’s way of telling us that Nevada, and Washoe County, is earthquake country,” Washoe County Emergency Manager Aaron Kenneston said. “Today would be an ideal day to walk through your house, or place of work, and do a hazard hunt. Secure bookshelves, water heaters and items that can easily fall and hurt you.”

As a public safety reminder local and state agencies urge the public be prepared in the event an emergency causes you to be self-reliant for three days without utilities and electricity, water service, access to a supermarket or local services, or maybe even without response from police, fire or rescue.

The Nevada Seismological Laboratory operates a network of about 150 real-time seismograph stations throughout the region providing earthquake information to Nevada citizens, the USGS, and local and state officials.

Charles Watson, of Chester’s Advanced Geologic Exploration, who provides the newspaper’s Earthquake report, suspects the quakes, located in the Steamboat Geothermal Area, have something to do with the geothermal plant in the area.

“It’s very curious,” Watson said. “They’re all right there at the (geothermal) field.”

In his opinion, the “shotgun pattern” of these quakes suggests they’re not part of any tectonic activity, but he noted there are some very large faults in the Truckee Meadows (Reno) area.

He said those faults could produce a mid-7 magnitude earthquake.