Minor Earthquake Shakes Las Vegas, Nevada

(Seismo-Watch, Reno, NV) A minor earthquake measuring a preliminary magnitude of M3.4 occurred Saturday evening, February 3 at 7:29 p.m. in southern Nevada near Las Vegas, startling many residents but causing no damage.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center and the Nevada Seismological Laboratory, the quake was centered in Las Vegas Valley about 10 miles west of the Highway 95 and Interstate 15 junction at the base of the Spring Mountains, near the end of Summerlin Parkway. The epicenter coordinates are 36.16N by 115.36W. The focal point was shallow and probably near surface (<5.0 km deep). A small M1.4 aftershock was detected at 9:13 p.m. later that evening.

Residents in the vicinity reported first hearing a loud boom and some low rumbles, then feeling a few small vibrations which lasted only a moment or two. The shaking was described as feeling like a sonic boom or an explosion, but distinctly different, and coming from below rather than above. There were no reports of items toppling from tables or shelves.

While Las Vegas residents have felt moderate and large earthquakes from other nearby areas, like the Lavic Lake (Hector Mine) M7.1 earthquake in the High Desert of Southern California on October 16, 1999, or the Scotty's Junction M5.7 earthquake located in a remote region of Nevada between Goldfield and Beaty on August 1, 1999, earthquakes registering a M3+ have been relatively uncommon in Las Vegas Valley in recent years.

The last M3 tremor in Las Vegas Valley measured M3.7 and occurred on October 21, 1996 and was centered a few miles north of Saturday's quake.

Most of the earthquake activity around Las Vegas in the last 65 years has been recorded near Lake Mead and has been attributed to the initial filling of the dam. However, recent investigations by the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology and others have discovered several, significant active fault traces around Las Vegas Valley, indicating large earthquakes have occurred here in the not so distant geologic past - altogether not so surprising considering the tectonic processes that built the tall, rugged mountains of the region.

Seismo-Watch is a leading source for earthquake news and information, providing near-real time, historical and geological data, analysis and news.

Charles P. Watson
President and Chief Geologist
Seismo-Watch, Inc.
P.O. Box 18012
Reno, Nevada 89511
Phone: 775-852-0992
Fax: 775-852-3226
E-mail: [email protected]

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