University's Seismology Lab Hosts 800 Experts, Focuses on Preparedness

May 3, 2016

University of Nevada, Reno Provost Kevin Carman (left) visits with Seismology Lab Director Graham Kent in the KUNR studios.
Credit KUNR

Naturally, most of us feel and remember only the large earthquakes, like the jolts that rattled through south Reno a few days before Christmas this past year. Or the 2008 swarm that went on for months that felt like years in west Reno. And there are less noticeable earthquakes occurring all the time as well.

Not only is northern Nevada earthquake country, it’s also the epicenter of worldwide earthquake research that’s happening every day right here at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Reno was the host city for the Seismological Society of America's 2016 annual meeting during a busy month of April for the university's seismology laboratory and related entities.

University Provost Kevin Carman and Dr. Graham Kent, the director of the university's "seismo lab," discussed the gathering of 800 international earthquake researchers focused on earthquake preparedness and their economic impacts on KUNR's Beyond the Headlines (air date 4-29-16; interviewed by David Stipech). The discussion also covered how fighting wildfires is being aided with the HD video technology used by the university's seismologists.

More information on this topic.

Additional information provided by the University of Nevada, Reno. Dr. Graham Kent, director of the Nevada Seismological Laboratory, is one of the University’s foremost researchers. With Nevada being one of the most seismically active states in the country, Dr. Kent’s work has brought the University’s research capabilities as a national leader in seismological studies to the forefront. No time has this been more evident than this spring. On April 20-22, the Seismological Society of America annual meeting brought together 800 of the nation’s top seismology researchers in Reno. Dr. Kent was one of the featured speakers at the event, speaking about the use of seismic networks and integrating them in high-definition cameras for 21st-century firefighting. Also, Dr. Kent was part of an historic national online Earthquake Summit broadcast from the White House where leaders identified Nevada among a small group of states that have need for an earthquake early warning system as well as a need to increase earthquake resiliency. On April 19, Dr. Kent was part of a forum of international experts to inform the region of the dangers and probabilities of devastating earthquakes, and how to recover economically as a region. It is estimated that a magnitude 6 earthquake in the region, according to FEMA estimates, could do more than $1.9 billion in damage in the Reno/Sparks area.

DR. GRAHAM KENT is a native of South Lake Tahoe. He is director of the Nevada Seismological Laboratory and Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering. He has conducted a variety of studies around the globe, including tsunamis and ocean bottom seismic research. He has mapped earthquake faults beneath Lake Tahoe that have produced tsunamis and most recently has placed important constraints on southern San Andreas Fault recurrence times through mapping cross faults beneath the Salton Sea. His research interests include mapping fault hazards within Walker Lake using seismic imagery. He also brought the “ShakeOut” to Nevada in 2010 (the first state to join California in an annual earthquake drill), and in 2015 the Great Nevada Shakeout was the largest combined public earthquake drill in the world (630,000-plus Nevadans participated). Kent is also leading Alert TAHOE, a public and private program to bring earthquake early warning to the Tahoe region, and build out a fire camera network for early detection of ignition in the Tahoe Basin. In the past year, working also in central Nevada, the approach of a Wildland Fire Camera network has discovered over two dozen fires.  In summer 2016, work will begin to place an additional 16 cameras in the field to widen the footprint of this successful program. For Dr. Kent, such an effort is considered personal in some respects. He has had two homes – one in California and one in Nevada – burned over or threatened by wildfires.