Thursday, February 21, 2008

Powerful Earthquake Near Wells, Nevada

Really strong, with a lot of damage potential. The Gods of the Great Basin must not be pleased:
WELLS, Nev. -- A strong earthquake rocked rural northeastern Nevada town Thursday, shattering windows, rupturing water lines and felling brick building facades in the mostly unoccupied historical district. No serious injuries were reported, authorities said.

The magnitude of the quake, initially estimated at 6.3, was later revised to 6.0 by the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo.

An estimated 20 to 25 buildings in the old historical district have been "heavily damaged," Elko County Sheriff's Sgt. Kevin McKinney told The Associated Press by telephone.

The town of about 1,300 was closed to all but residents, the Nevada Highway Patrol said. Because it is a crossroad for travelers on Interstate 80 and U.S. 93 about 60 miles west of the Utah line, officials were posting signs along those highways to fill up on gasoline elsewhere.

"In northern Nevada gas stops are few and far between," said Trooper Jim Stewart. "We don't want motorists stranded in the middle of nowhere."

The temblor, centered in a sparsely populated area 11 miles southeast of Wells near the Nevada-Utah line, occurred at 6:16 a.m. and was felt across much of the West, from northern Idaho and Utah to Southern California, officials said.

...More than a dozen aftershocks were reported.

...Three injuries were reported, but they were "not very serious -- a broken arm, some head lacerations, some difficulty breathing," he said.

Dan Burns, spokesman with the Nevada Division of Emergency Management, said transportation and safety personnel were inspecting roads, bridges and dams in the area for structural damage.

...The Flying J Truck Stop was evacuated because of a propane leak, Undersheriff Rocky Gonzalez said, but no fires broke out. The leak was contained by midmorning.

Gonzalez said deputies were going door to door to check on residents, and the Red Cross had set up a temporary evacuation center at the fire station.

About 37 families had registered at the center but there was no count on the number of people and no indication how many would need a place to stay overnight, said Caroline Punches of the Northern Nevada Chapter of the American Red Cross.

A manager at the Flying J said the store was a wreck, with groceries and goods scattered. One woman was reportedly injured when a cigarette rack fell on her.

A man who answered the phone at Wells Elementary School said there were cracks in walls and items were displaced.

"It was pretty bad," said Jane Kelso, who answered the phone at the Motel 6. "Everything in our whole building shook.

"We have cracks in our walls."

In Wendover, Utah, just over the Nevada line, Tammy Wadsworth was ironing clothes when the quake hit.

"I kept thinking, 'When is it going to quit?' A couple pictures fell off the walls," she said. "One of my grandkids ran outside. They didn't know what else to do. It scared them."

...Tony Lowry, an assistant professor of geophysics at Utah State University, said the size of the quake and its location was unusual.

"It's not common at all," Lowry said. "In that part of Nevada, I don't think we've seen any like that in the last 150 years or so.

"It's not one of the places we would've looked or expected."

According the USGS, the quake occurred along the Independence Valley fault system that runs east of Wells and near the Pequop Mountains.

The most recent surface rupture on the fault zone "likely occurred several tens of thousands of years ago," the agency in a statement.

No comments:

Post a Comment