Home Emergency Management News 6.5 magnitude earthquake near California-Nevada border rattles Bay Area
6.5 magnitude earthquake near California-Nevada border rattles Bay Area

6.5 magnitude earthquake near California-Nevada border rattles Bay Area


May 15--A 6.5 magnitude earthquake early Friday in the western Nevada desert sent vibrations that startled people as far away as the Bay Area, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

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The earthquake struck at about 4:03 a.m. in a remote area about 40 miles west of Tonopah, officials said. It originated at a depth of 1.7 miles as the result of a "strike slip faulting in the shallow crust of the North America plate," USGS officials said.

No serious injuries were reported, and the biggest damage seems to have occurred on a Nevada highway.

Kate Scharer, a USGS research geologist in Pasadena, said the quake took place on an unknown and relatively uncommon fault running east to west in the Candelaria Hills. Most fault lines in the area run north-south.

Earthquakes are fairly common in that part of Nevada, Scharer said, and even a 6.5 quake was not unexpected. A quake occurred on an east-west fault nearby in 1934, and the area north of Friday's epicenter was seismically active from 1915 to 1954. Much of the early earthquake research took place in this region.

"This is what we expect for this part of the world," Scharer said.

The USGS received more than 16,000 "Did You Feel It?" reports from people who felt the original quake Friday, including dozens of Bay Area residents. The shaking could be felt as far north as Sonoma County and even up to Eureka (Humboldt County) on the Northern California coast.

More than three dozen aftershocks of lesser intensity have occurred since the main tremblor. The largest was a 5.1 magnitude aftershock recorded 23 minutes after the main event, officials said.

As many 700 aftershocks of lower intensity are possible over the next week, according to the USGS. There is a 4% chance of a quake stronger than 6.5 magnitude.

Measurements of the shaking indicated that major damage was unlikely, according to the USGS. However, Highway 95, the main route between Reno and Las Vegas, was closed because of large cracks in the pavement, officials said.

Tonopah residents were shook up by the earthquake.

"It really shook a lot of groceries off the shelves," Keith Hasty, an employee at a gas station in Tonopah, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Hasty said many of the residents who frequent the store were talking about the quake.

"We have a lot of locals coming in saying their TVs were shaking, they felt it," Hasty said. "No damage that I've heard of. My boss just called and said his garage shook."

The USGS is working with the Nevada Seismological Laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno on a report about the quake.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Michael Cabanatuan is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: mcabanatuan@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @ctuan ___


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