Earthquake Early-Warning Sensors Being Expanded in California

An infusion of federal funding will help expand or strengthen the U.S. Geological Survey’s earthquake early-warning system around Lake Tahoe, Death Valley, Mammoth and Bishop.

The University of Nevada, Reno, which runs the seismic network in eastern California, will use $1 million from the USGS to upgrade obsolete seismic sensors in Death Valley and the Mammoth and Bishop areas. The funding also will boost seismic networks in the Lake Tahoe and Truckee areas, where communications systems can be damaged in severe winters, said Graham Kent, director of the university’s Nevada Seismological Laboratory.

Eastern California and Nevada carry significant seismic risk. The Death Valley fault system, which stretches east of Bishop down to the southern reaches of Death Valley National Park, is capable of generating a quake of roughly magnitude 7.8, Kent said. The Las Vegas area would suffer damage if such a powerful quake occurred and the fault ruptured toward the southeast and toward the city, Kent said. …

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