Swarm of earthquakes rattle area southeast of Lakeview

By Stuart Tomlinson / The Oregonian

Seismologists are closely monitoring an area about 40 miles southeast of Lake-view that has had an unusual swarm of earthquakes in the past several weeks.

The largest temblor — a magnitude 3.7 quake — occurred at 9 p.m. Monday, said Ken Smith, seismic network manager for the Nevada Seismological Laboratory at the University of Nevada-Reno.

“Yesterday was the largest, but this swarm started back in July,” Smith said Tuesday. “It’s pretty unusual — I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it.”

The quakes are occurring in an area of north Washoe County in Nevada that’s not only remote but contains a sparse network of automated monitors that adds to the difficulty of tracking seismic activity, Smith said.

As a result, Smith said, seismologists must manually check computer data, which takes more time.

“We are locating as many as we can locate,” Smith said, “and trying to get ahead of them.”

So far, Smith said, seismologists have located 303 events in the swarm since July 12. Monday’s 3.7 quake, he said, was difficult to pinpoint because it was part of multiple earthquakes.

The area is so unpopulated that only three people from Oregon and Nevada signed in to the U.S. Geological Survey’s “Did you feel it?” website to report that they did in fact feel the shaking of Monday night’s quake.

Smith said the Great Basin area where the swarm is occurring is crisscrossed by fault lines.

According to the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, Nevada is “one of the most seismically active regions in the United States.

Along with California and Alaska, Nevada ranks in the top three states subject to the most large earthquakes over the last 150 years.”