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Earthquake experts keeping a close eye on Northwest Nevada swarm

RENO, Nev. -- In the past month, there have been dozens of earthquakes near the California and Oregon borders.

Nevada Seismological Laboratory Director Graham Kent said the latest quakes are similar to some you might remember. "For those of you who remember Mogul in 2008, it's a lot like the Mogul sequence. That finally ended with a magnitude five."

Kent said it is hard to guess what will come of this swarm in northern Nevada, because monitoring equipment in the area is scarce and so is historical data. "We just haven't seen enough of these things evolve."

What we do know is there is no shortage of seismic activity in the Silver State. "We constitute about 62 percent of all the earthquakes in the Intermountain West," Kent said.

But it has been decades since our area has seen a big one. "From 1950 to 1954 we had seven 6.5s or larger," Kent said. "We haven't had one since."

Kent said the West Tahoe fault near the lake is also overdue. "It on average ruptures every three or four thousand years, and it's been about 4,500 years since its last earthquake."

We do not know when or where the next big quake will be, but Kent said there is a good chance it will trigger other faults. "Reno is just shattered with faults. Tahoe is really easy. You can say one, two, three faults. There you go. Reno you'd need multiple people with multiple hands to point [them] out."

The good news is now LiDAR technology is helping them map the faults, so we can plan ahead. "How do we mitigate earthquakes?" Kent said. "[We] can't stop them. California can't stop theirs. Oregon, Washington can't stop theirs. But the responsible thing is, how do you mitigate them?"

Kent said if your home is not earthquake safe, now is the time to secure it. "At the end of the day, it's corny, but earthquakes don't kill people. Things falling on people kill people."

Because we cannot yet predict earthquakes, Kent said it is important to always be ready. One way you can do that is by participating in the annual Great Nevada ShakeOut. This year, it is at 10:16 a.m. on October 16.