Friday 30 December 2016

Earthquake swarm hits Mineral County, Nevada.

The United States Geological Survey recorded swarm of Earthquakes in western Nevada, beginning with a pair of a Magnitude 5.7 Earthquake at a depth of 8-12 km, slightly under 30 km to the southwest of the town of Hawthorne in Mineral County in western Nevada, at about 0.20 am local time (about 8.20 am GMT) on Wednesday 18 December 2016. About 50 quakes, mostly quite small, were recorded in the same area during the next 24 hours. There are no reports of any serious damage or injuries associated with this quake, but some damage to properties has been reported in rural areas of  Mineral County, as well as some road closures due to landslips. The events were felt across much of Nevada and California.

Damage to a property on a ranch in Mineral County, Nevada, following the 28 December 2016 Earthquakes. David Ziegler/KoloTV.

Nevada is a zone of active mountain orogeny (mountain growth), fuelled by the subduction zone on the American West Coast. The state is criss-crossed by faults associated with its many growing mountain ranges, which form part of the Rockies. The rocks of the North American lithosphere are being pushed to the east by seafloor spreading beneath the Pacific and to the west by seafloor spreading beneath the Atlantic. This results in folding and upthrust within the plate, principally in the Rocky Mountains, which run along the western margin of the North American Plate, close to the subduction and fault zones of the continent's west coast. This folding and thrusting leads to frequent Earthquakes throughout the Rocky Mountain region, with Nevada being one of America's most quake-prone states.

 The approximate location of the 28 December 2016 Mineral County Earthquake swarm. USGS.

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