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California quakes shouldn't increase risk of major earthquake in Las Vegas

Posted: 11:33 PM, Jul 06, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-12 10:20:26-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Las Vegas shook again Friday evening.

The 7.1 magnitude earthquake near Ridgecrest in Southern California could be felt in Las Angeles and Las Vegas.

It followed a July 4th 6.4 magnitude quake that could also be felt for hundreds of miles around the Searles Valley epicenter.

Joshua Bonde, geologist and Natural History Museum curator, tracked the seismic waves of both major earthquakes as they traveled through Las Vegas and beyond.

"We need to take this opportunity to remind ourselves that earthquakes do happen here," Bonde said.

He said Nevada is the third most seismically active state in the nation, and at least seven faults exist under Las Vegas alone.

Bonde said the good news is, the Ridgecrest earthquakes shouldn't increase the chances of a major earthquake in Southern Nevada.

"You shouldn't worry about anything propagating here," Bonde said.

Caltech Geologist Lucy Jones said one earthquake can only trigger another quake at a distance up to three or four times the length of the fault it came from.

The fault lines that generated both the 6.4 and 7.1 magnitude earthquakes, Jones said, is 25 miles long.

"The ability to trigger an earthquake dies off very rapidly with distance," Jones said, "we're getting maybe out over 70, 80 miles its possible to see stuff, but that's the extreme of it."

Las Vegas sits roughly 150 miles from the epicenter of the major earthquakes.

Bonde said Southern Nevada is just as likely to experience a significant earthquake in the days following both Southern California quakes as any other day.

"I believe a 6.0 earthquake has a 12-1/2% chance of happening within 50 miles of the Las Vegas Valley in any given year," Bonde said.

Before the latest round, the last earthquake to shake the Las Vegas Valley was a 4.8 magnitude quake much closer in Caliente in May, 2015.