Anchorage earthquake prompts questions: Can experts predict quakes in the valley?

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November 30, 2018, is a day many Alaskans will never forget. At 8:30 Friday morning 7.0 magnitude earthquake rattled Anchorage, Alaska and the surrounding region.

Luckily there have been no reports of deaths or serious injuries, but the plethora of video coming out of Anchorage shows just how severe the shaking was.

The quake caused significant damage to homes, buildings, and other infrastructure.  It also caused widespread power outages.

People who have lived in Alaska for decades are accustomed to earthquakes, but this time they described the threat as a severe event.

“I have been here 37 years, and that was the most violent earthquake I have ever felt,” said Kristin Dossett who lives near Anchorage.  “It was absolutely terrifying.”

Seismologists predict up to a thousand aftershocks will be felt over the next 24-hours.

The U.S. geological survey’s website shows all the latest earthquakes in the U.S.  Around Anchorage there’s a lot of activity from Friday morning’s big quake, and other smaller quakes and aftershocks.

The Las Vegas valley is also no stranger to earthquakes.  In fact, a major fault line runs right through the valley.

“We still cannot predict earthquakes,” said Dr. Wanda Taylor, a geoscience professor at UNLV.  “We don’t understand them well enough. That’s why we continue to study them.”

According to Dr. Taylor, in the past few years, she’s seen a few earthquakes in southern Nevada. Many of them reached up to about a 4.2 magnitude.

“There have been some magnitude 3.0’s, 3.5; up to 4.2 in the last few years and in the last couple decades but we haven’t had something as big as a 5 since 1992; I think at little skull mountain,” Dr. Taylor said.  “But we have the potential to have a 6.5 to 6.9 earthquake in the valley, and also all the faults in death valley could — well, shake Las Vegas.”

With chances of an earthquake happening at any time, Dr. Taylor and her colleagues keep trying to understand the earth’s movement.

In the meantime, she urges everyone to realize the danger, so they can prepare.

“The preparation is nearly the same as for any other natural disaster, Dr. Taylor said. “Have three days of water for every person in your household ready; have some food, have your water heater strapped to the wall so it doesn’t cause a fire and it can be a source of water for you. Have a medical kit. have extra medications in case you can’t get to a drugstore for a few days.”

According to Dr. Taylor, Nevada is the third most seismically active state, tied with Hawaii. 

Alaska and California take first and second place. As for the earthquake in Alaska Friday, no ripple effects are expected to hit the west coast. 

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