Nev. is 3rd most seismically active state in US; geologist say stay prepared


People in the southwest part of the valley are still shaking off the 4.5 magnitude earthquake that shook Sandy Valley and Pahrump Thursday morning.  

Seismology experts say Nevada sees earthquake activity all the time, but most of the events are so small they aren’t felt.  

Nevada is the third most seismically active state in the country, behind California and Alaska, so geologist say it’s important to stay prepared.  

“Would it do much damage to Las Vegas. We don’t really know,” said Alexander Peck, UNLV Geology.

So could Las Vegas face something similar?

“There are scenarios where big events could happen in the Las Vegas area,” said Dr. Ken Smith, Seismic Network Manager at UNR. 

A handful of fault lines actually line roads all across the Las Vegas valley. A perfect example is here, at the intersection of Tropicana and Decatur. If looked at closely one can see the dip in the road, that’s a fault line that could cause a major earthquake. 

Southern Nevada’s last significant earthquake was centered near Caliente in 2015.

“All these things are moving due to the same tectonic regime that’s happening regionally,” Peck said.

Peck, a UNLV masters student, says it’s important to stay prepared. 

“Find out in the event of an earthquake, where, in the building you and your family are going to go,” Peck said.

It’s also important to have a supply kit on hand, along with investing in extra medical training. 

“We don’t know how much of the fault will slip when it does rupture,” Peck said. 

“Nevada is an earthquake country, and it’s something we all have to live with,” Dr. Smith said.

When asked how tall buildings on the Strip would fare in a Las Vegas earthquake, Peck said, most of the high rises in the valley are modern and structurally sound enough to handle a moderate quake.  According to Peck, older structures are more susceptible to damage. 

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