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Experts say earthquake risk in Northern Nevada same as a decade ago

RENO, Nev. -- A new federal earthquake map is shaking things up a bit for about one-third of the United States, including Nevada. The U.S. Geologic Survey updated its national seismic hazard maps for the first time since 2008.

Nevada is one of 16 states considered to have the highest risk for earthquakes. So there is a two-percent chance our state could experience very intense shaking over a 50-year lifespan.

But experts say Northern Nevadas risk has not changed much in the last decade. "A couple iteration's ago, this map showed us a lot of changes in our Reno, Carson, Tahoe area, so we've kind of settled down on that hazard," said Nevada Seismological Laboratory Director Graham Kent.

Every six years the USGS updates the map. It is the most current understanding of where future earthquakes will occur, how often they will occur, and how hard the ground will likely shake as a result.

Kent said the updated map basically reiterates our region's most active areas. "We are in an active area, especially the Western parts of Northern Nevada, essentially our latitude between, let's say Lake Tahoe and Fallon, particularly."

However, Kent said the map shows hazard in the Silver State has increased in Las Vegas. "As an example, our monitoring network isnt so great down in the Las Vegas area, and we've known that for a while, but having this update to the map certainly gives us the ammo to go out and fix it."

Although Kent said Northern Nevada is more likely to have larger earthquakes, he said because Southern Nevada is bigger, earthquakes will ultimately have a larger economic impact down there. "Loss of dollars, with the new results, Las Vegas will nudge ahead of our region, on average."

If you want to learn how to prepare for potential earthquakes, Kent said you can still sign up for the Great Nevada Shakeout that is happening in a few months. For more information, click here.