Powerful Earthquake Strikes Near Area 51


A powerful a 6.5-magnitude earthquake rattled western Nevada early Friday morning and was followed by a series of aftershocks, with six of them notably strong.

The quake struck about 35 miles west of Tonopah, Nevada at 4:03 am local time and was felt by people in Nevada, California and Utah.

“A magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck near Tonopah, Nevada, near the California-Nevada border and about 120 miles southeast of Carson City, early this morning on May 15, 2020, at 4:03 am local time (11:03:27 UTC),” the U.S. Geological Service reported.

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“Seismic instruments indicate the earthquake originated at a depth of  1.7 miles (2.8 km). The quake occurred as the result of strike slip faulting in the shallow crust of the North America plate,” the USGS added.

No injuries were reported as a result of the tremor, but U.S. 95, the highway between Reno and Las Vegas, was closed by the Nevada Highway Patrol after damage was reported.

Some on social media were quick to point out the vicinity of the quake to the mysterious U.S. government installation Area 51, which is only about 100 miles from Tonopah.

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Others said they were woken up by the early morning quake.

While some people were having fun with the quake on social media, the USGS is warning of more potentially large aftershocks in the wake of the earthquake.

“This event is already triggering aftershocks, which will decrease in frequency over time. The largest aftershock at the time of writing was a M 5.1 event 23 minutes after the mainshock,” the USGS reported.

The USGS is forecasting more tremors in the coming days and weeks.

“According to our forecast, over the next 1 Week there is a 4 % chance of one or more aftershocks that are larger than magnitude 6.5. It is likely that there will be smaller earthquakes over the next 1 Week, with 63 to 260 magnitude 3 or higher aftershocks. Magnitude 3 and above are large enough to be felt near the epicenter. The number of aftershocks will drop off over time, but a large aftershock can increase the numbers again, temporarily,” the warning read.

“So far in this sequence there have been 43 magnitude 3 or higher earthquakes, which are strong enough to be felt, and 1 magnitude 5 or higher earthquakes, which are large enough to do damage,” the USGS added.

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Johnathan Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor, and producer in radio, television and digital media.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.