RENO, Nev. May 15, 2020 – The Nevada Seismological Laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno reports a magnitude 6.5 earthquake about three miles below the surface located in a remote area 36 miles west of Tonopah, Nevada at 4:03 a.m. PDT on May 15. There have been no reports of damage. Within the first hour following the earthquake, more than 8,000 people reported feeling it.
The earthquake was felt throughout Nevada, central California and southern Utah. The event was felt with light to moderate shaking as far away as Reno and Las Vegas; as well as Fresno and Sacramento in California; and with very weak shaking in the Bay Area. The maximum felt shaking intensity reported by USGS’s “Did You Feel It?”was strong.
Six aftershocks larger than magnitude 4.5 occurred in the hour following the mainshock, the largest being a magnitude 5.1 approximately 23 minutes after the mainshock. Seismologists said the aftershocks could continue. Initial aftershock forecasts estimate that there is a 4% chance of an aftershock larger than magnitude 6.5 in the week following this event. Felt aftershocks are expected.
This area is an active seismic region. This earthquake is the largest in the region since a 1934 magnitude 6.5 earthquake approximately 24 miles to the northwest and a 1932 magnitude 6.8 earthquake approximately 30 miles to the north. The area experienced a magnitude 5.1 earthquake in 2013. About two dozen earthquakes in the magnitude 5 range have occurred within 65 miles of this event over the past 50 years, mostly to the west and south.
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Updated information for activity associated with this earthquake is available at http://www.seismo.unr.edu.
The earthquake occurred in the Walker Lane of Nevada, a geologic feature associated with the eastern California shear zone that roughly parallels the California-Nevada border. The Walker Lane is a 60-mile-wide zone of active faults that straddles the Nevada and California border. The Walker Lane starts in the Mojave Desert in southern California and extends to the east of the Sierra Nevada, north through western Nevada in the Reno area, and then into northeast California.
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 www.readywashoe.com.
The Nevada Seismological Laboratory, a public service department at the University of Nevada, Reno, is a member of the USGS Advanced National Seismic System (http://www.anss.org) and 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.