Unexpected quake strikes Nevada

The earthquake damage in Wells, Nevada | Image: CNN It may not be far from California, the state that is undoubtedly America’s earthquake hotspot. But the town of Wells in Nevada doesn’t usually experience earthquakes – not until now.

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake and over 30 aftershocks shook the town Friday, toppling buildings and destroying homes. Fortunately not a single life was lost, although some lives will take years to rebuild.

The USGS earthquake map | Image: USGS So why did the earthquake happen? It’s not like there is a major fault nearby, like the San Andreas fault in California. In fact, it has been pretty quiet in terms of seismic activity for Wells since the last earthquake in 1850. The last time the landscape was changed much by seismic activity was tens of thousands of years ago, according to USGS.

The answer is that it does indeed lie on a fault, but not a major one – the Independence Valley fault system that runs across the region. But it was so inactive that even USGS admits they weren’t really looking or expecting anything to happen around that area.

That’s the big problem with earthquakes, volcanoes, and nearly all other natural disasters – you just don’t know when they’re going to pop up next.


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