Wells, NV, got hit with a fairly big earthquake this morning, a 6.0 magnitude shaker. Early reports said that one or two buildings had been damaged, but as news organizations actually got out to the town to file first-hand reports, they found it was much worse than they had heard. The old downtown area, which consisted mostly of unreinforced brick buildings, is literally in a shambles. They say most of the buildings there will have to be torn down because they are beyond all hope of repair. Even the more modern buildings that make up the rest of the town sustained minor damage, like cracked walls, broken foundations, and toppled chimneys. The people of Wells are going to need a lot of strength to get through this one.
Nevada is ripe for earthquakes, so it’s actually a bit of a surprise that we don’t have them more often. There have only been five or six really big ones like this in recent memory. But if you look around at all the mountain ranges that criss-cross the state, each one of those mountains has a major fault line at its base. Fault lines run along the whole Eagle Valley, the whole Carson Valley, all over Reno, and just about everywhere in between. And each of those fault lines is capable of the “Big One”, a magnitude 7.0 or larger that can come at any time. So I think we’re really lucky that big earthquakes like this are rare, but our luck can’t last forever. One day, it might be 50 years, or a hundred, or five hundred, but a big quake will hit Carson City one day too. The best we can do is be prepared.
Pictures of the Wells quake can be seen at the Elko Daily Free Press