A series of earthquakes as recent as 1954 occurred in the Fallon area. These were similar in size to the earthquakes this month near Ridgecrest, California and serve as a reminder that Nevadans do live in earthquake country.
The text below includes excerpts from this publication:
Damaging Earthquakes in Nevada: 1840s to 2008, by Craig M. dePolo
The damaging earthquakes briefly described on this map occurred during the period from the mid-1800s to 2008. They are the largest historical examples, but do not include all significant and damaging earthquake events in the state. These events and their descriptions remind us that Nevada is earthquake country and that earthquakes will produce strong shaking within our communities in the future. A wise course of action for Nevadans is to heed the lessons of past events, know how to react to an earthquake, and actively prepare for earthquakes. Many ideas to stay safe and protect your property from earthquakes can be found in Living with Earthquakes in Nevada on the web at www.nbmg.unr.edu (NBMG Special Publication 27).
1954, July 6
Rainbow Mountain Earthquakes
M 6.2 and M 6.1
On July 6, 1954 at 3:13 a.m. PST an earthquake of “major proportions” struck near the town of Fallon. The magnitude 6.2 event (Pancha and others, 2006) was felt from San Francisco to Wendover and from southern Oregon to just north of Las Vegas (Cloud, 1956). Eight men were injured, one with a fractured leg, at the Fallon Naval Air Station when barracks lockers fell on them while they were sleeping in their bunks (FS 7/7/54). More than a dozen buildings and businesses were damaged in Fallon (FS 7/7/54; FS 8/11/54). Damage was most severe to brick and concrete buildings and included cracked and fallen walls and plaster. Many chimneys fell or were damaged. A dam broke, and there was extensive damage to the Newlands Project irrigation system (FS 7/7/54). President Eisenhower declared the Fallon region a disaster area and made available $200,000 of disaster relief funding (FS 7 /14/54). Earthquake surface rupturing from the July 6th event was more than 18 km (11 mi) long, and the ground was vertically offset by as much as 35 cm (-14 in; Tocher, 1956; Caskey and others, 2004). Extensive liquefaction occurred, accompanied by water spouts, ground settling, and the filling of irrigation canals with sediment (Steinbrugge and Moran, 1956). A magnitude 6.1 aftershock occurred on the afternoon of July 6, only 11 hours after the mainshock and extended the surface ruptures to the south (Caskey and others, 2004).
1954, August 23
The Stillwater earthquake struck the Fallon region on August 23, 1954 at 10:51 p.m. PST and was estimated to have been magnitude 6.8 (Pancha and others (2006). It created 53 km (33 mi) of surface faulting (Caskey and others, 2004). This was a right-lateral strike-slip earthquake with some normal offset, and the largest surface rupture had about 1 m (-3 ft) of right-lateral strike-slip offset (Caskey and others, 2004). In Fallon, seven buildings were damaged (FS 8/25/54; FS 9/1/54). Of these buildings, three, including a school building, were so severely damaged they had to be torn down. Chimneys were thrown down or cracked, windows were broken, and there was a lot of nonstructural damage (FS 8/25/54). A four-inch water main was broken in two places (FS 8/25/54). Again there was extensive liquefaction in the Fallon area (Murphy and Cloud, 1956). Unfortunately, a large part of the emergency remediation work conducted on the canal system was completely obliterated by the Stillwater earthquake (Murphy and Cloud, 1956).
1954, December 16
Fairview Peak–Dixie Valley Earthquakes
M 7.1 and M 6.9
On December 16, 1954 there were two large, back-to-back earthquakes east of the Fallon area that were felt throughout Nevada and created several large ground ruptures. The first event, the Fairview Peak earthquake, a right-normal-oblique-slip event, occurred at 3:07 a.m. PST and had a magnitude of 7.1 (Pancha and others, 2006). This was followed four minutes and 20 seconds later (3:11 a.m.) by a magnitude 6.9 event, the Dixie Valley earthquake, a normal-slip event (Slemmons and others, 1965). Both earthquakes created spectacular surface ruptures over a total area of 100 km (62 mi) long and 14.5 km (9 mi) wide, with ground offsets of as much as 3.8 m (12.5 ft) vertical and 2.9 m (9.5 ft) right lateral (Slemmons, 1957; Caskey and others, 1996). The earthquake was in a sparsely populated region, and there were no reported injuries and only minor building damage and content losses. In Dixie Valley, an “adobe cellar, gasoline tank and water tank, and stone wall collapsed”, a stove moved several feet, and a woman was thrown from her bed due to the shaking (Murphy and Cloud, 1956). In one living room, a piano “kangarooed” its way to the opposite side of the room during the shaking (FS 12/22/54). In the surrounding region, dishes broke, walls and chimneys were cracked in the towns of Austin, Luning, Mina, Rawhide, Fallon, Lovelock, Eureka, and Carson City (Murphy and Cloud, 1956). Damage in Carson City included cracked walls and fallen plaster in the Capitol building, the State Printing Building, and the State Prison (Murphy and Cloud, 1956). Water lines were broken at Lovelock, Mina and near Gabbs (Murphy and Cloud, 1956).
Now Available Free Online
This NBMG Special Publication by Craig M. dePolo, Jim G. Rigby, Gary L. Johnson, Steven L. Jacobson, John G. Anderson, and Thomas J. Wythes is now available free online:
This publication provides a detailed analysis of the plausible consequences of a hypothetical magnitude 7.1 earthquake along the northern Carson Range front in the Reno–Carson City area.
By Craig M. dePolo (Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology)
Earthquakes are all about consequences, as the chance of a damaging one occurring is fortunately low (although upwards of 14,000 small earthquakes occur in Nevada every year). But the consequences, especially those that could have been prevented, are commonly unacceptable. The low chance of an event makes it easy to delay getting prepared with all the other pressing issues in life. But Nevada is earthquake country and damaging earthquakes will occur in the future. With the magnitude 6.4 and 7.1 earthquakes occurring not far from the Nevada border, it is a great time to finally get earthquake ready. Here is what we recommend:
1) Personal safety: Know what to do when strong shaking occurs. DROP, COVER, and HOLD. Can things fall on you when you’re in bed? If so remove these items or secure them. Identify a safe spot in each room where you can take cover to protect yourself from falling objects. Don’t forget to check your office as well.
2) Protect valuable items: The contents in our homes and offices can be tossed around during an earthquake and heavy or sharp objects are a common cause of injuries. Shaking hazards can be moved to a safer location, secured in place, replaced with a lighter item, or removed altogether. Some special consideration should also be given to items that are of value to you, such as family heirlooms, to protect them.
3) Prepare a disaster kit: This includes water, food, safety supplies, medications, pet food and other supplies to sustain you and your family for at least five days.
4) Prepare a disaster plan: Taking the time to put together a short plan helps a family reunite following a damaging earthquake and focuses attention on possible hazards around your house (such as telling children to stay away from a tall chimney). Discuss this plan with your family. Businesses should have disaster plans too.
5) Check your house for earthquake weaknesses and begin to fix them: This step is the hardest and you may need some assistance, but protecting the investment of your home and having a place to shelter following an earthquake makes it worthwhile. Is your house bolted to the foundation?
These and other recommendations and further earthquake discussions can be found in Living with Earthquakes in Nevada at this link (open the link below and then click on the PDF link under Free Downloads):
http://pubs.nbmg.unr.edu/Living-with-earthquakes-in-NV-p/sp027.htm Future damaging earthquakes will occur in Nevada, and we want Nevadans to survive them well.
Arianna Bennett interviews Jim Faulds:
In this interview, Jim Faulds, NBMG Director and State Geologist, explains to the public how geothermal energy works, why Nevada geology is favorable for geothermal, its advantages as a renewable resource, and its future.
Title: 2018 Working Group on Nevada Seismic Hazards: Summary and Recommendations of the Workshop, February 5–6, 2018
Authors: Rich D. Koehler and John G. Anderson
Series: Open-File Report 2019-02
Format: 44 pages, color
Ranked by the numbers of tectonic earthquakes, Nevada is the third most seismically active state in the United States, behind Alaska and California (Anderson and Miyata, 2006). Major earthquakes in Nevada (dePolo et al., 1997) have included the 1915 Pleasant Valley earthquake (Mw7.2), the 1932 Cedar Mountain earthquake (Mw7.1), and the 1954 cluster of earthquakes in central Nevada including Stillwater (Mw6.8), Fairview Peak (Mw7.1), and Dixie Valley (Mw7.0) earthquakes. While these earthquakes have all fortunately been relatively removed from major population centers, these earthquakes, as well as widely distributed smaller earthquakes throughout the state demonstrate that the seismic hazard of the region is high. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has consequently and appropriately been highly concerned that the National Seismic Hazard Map (NSHM) for this region should be as reliable as possible.
Seismic hazard in western Nevada is characterized by two main tectonic elements, the Walker Lane Belt (WLB) and Basin and Range extension. The WLB is characterized by transtensional strike-slip motion along the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada block at 6–9 mm/year to the NW relative to central Nevada. This motion is accommodated along northwest striking right-lateral faults, northeast striking left-lateral faults, and north-northeast striking normal faults (Stewart, 1988; Wesnousky, 2005a, 2005b; Wesnousky et al., 2012). Geologic deformation rates along many of the faults in the Reno–Carson City–Lake Tahoe region, which is in the WLB, remain poorly constrained, and urban development has made assessing paleoseismic parameters difficult along many structures. East of WLB, the main tectonic element is Basin and Range extension. Crustal motion in the eastern third of central Nevada is relatively block-like, and characterized by the 1–2 mm/yr westward motion relative to stable North America (Hammond et al., 2011, 2014; Koehler and Wesnousky, 2011). In the Las Vegas region of southern Nevada, deformation is accommodated across a widely distributed series of faults. Many of these faults are poorly characterized, and paleoseismic parameters are currently insufficient to include several mapped faults in the National Seismic Hazard Map. Strain-rate models for the southwestern United States show zones of elevated strain across these structures (Kreemer et al., 2010; 2012). Thus, seismic hazards have the potential to impact any region of the state.
Improvements to future updates to the National Seismic Hazard Map are dependent on developing a better understanding of spatio-temporal patterns of crustal strain accumulation and release (geodesy and geology), better defining fault geometry, predictive models of source characteristics and ground motions (seismology), and better characterizing site response, basin amplification, and basin depths (geophysics), among other issues. To address future research priorities related to these issues, a two-day workshop was convened at the University of Nevada, Reno to discuss technical issues related to earthquake hazards in Nevada and develop a path forward to reduce uncertainties and improve the National Seismic Hazard Map. The workshop builds on the results of previous working group efforts (Briggs and Hammond, 2011).
This report presents a summary of the key issues discussed at the workshop. A formal publication of the workshop results has been submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The summary presented here is intended to be a resource for guiding future earthquake research in Nevada and will be archived online at the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology (NBMG). The workshop provides a model for future working group meetings of earthquake professionals in Nevada in efforts to better characterize seismic hazards in the state.
Supported by the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program (Award #G17AC00406).
SPEAKER: Shawn Gooch, P.E.
TOPIC: Water Pollution Control Permitting in Nevada for Metals Mining
ABSTRACT: Metals mining in the State of Nevada that uses mechanized equipment is required to obtain a Water Pollution Control Permit from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Division of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Mining Regulation and Reclamation (BMRR) pursuant to Nevada Revised Statutes 445A and Nevada Administrative Code 445A. BMRR’s Regulation Branch operates under these statues and codes with a mission to provide protection of “Waters of the State” by enforcing water pollution control regulations at mining facilities. The presentation will provide an overview of typical water pollution control permitting for small and large scale metals mining. The presentation will also cover new 2018 regulations and upcoming changes and improvements to the permitting process. Some general attention will be given to reclamation and closure topics as well as inspection and compliance activities. The presentation will emphasize containment of process solution through a variety of methods including use of synthetic liner systems, secondary containment systems, double containment, and QA/QC procedures.
For a detailed biography, please click here:
The Bar is sponsored, and we are providing complimentary dinners to the first three students who submit RSVP’s. Any additional students will be charged $25.
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Opportunities for Precious Metals Toll Processing and Copper Concentrate Processing in Nevada
by Thomas J. DeMull, David A. Davis, Lucia M. Patterson, and Joel Lenz
Series: Report 57
Format: 44 pages (6 pages are 11×17), color
Endeavoring to facilitate economic development in the minerals industry, the Nevada Commission on Mineral Resources initiated this study on opportunities for precious metal custom milling and copper concentrate processing in the state. The study compiled a listing of 51 existing processing facilities, including key data such as location, ownership, process type, and capacity, if available. Brief descriptions of the existing facilities are provided. A number of these facilities are either actively engaged in custom processing or will consider custom processing of materials. Precious metal resources that could become candidates for custom processing were identified, and descriptions of the resources are provided. Since ample opportunities for custom processing precious metal ores already exist, the viability of establishing a new plant for precious metals is questionable. Reactivating one of the idle plants would likely be more attractive than building a new one.
Undeveloped copper resources in Nevada are identified, including estimates of potential production that could feed a copper concentrate processing facility. The volume of existing copper concentrate production in Nevada is probably not adequate to support a concentrate processing facility. However, a case could be made for establishing a concentrate processing facility in Nevada, if production from other western states that is now exported and the potential production from undeveloped resources in Nevada and other states are considered along with the current Nevada production. Copper smelting and concentrate leaching are listed as alternative processing technologies. Autoclave leaching of concentrates is a lower capital cost alternative, which could increase the economic attractiveness of a copper concentrate processing facility. Potential developers could include the producers of concentrate and operators of concentrate processing facilities in other states. Nevada is a mining-friendly jurisdiction, and potential locations for a copper concentrate processing facility were identified with access to transportation, energy, and air basins with no current sources of emissions. Development of a concentrate processing facility may attract downstream copper facilities such as rod plants, wire manufacturers, brass mills, and copper-alloy manufacturers.