Updated Estimated Losses from Earthquakes

Open-File Report 14-5
Updated estimated losses from earthquakes near Nevada communities

by Irene M. Seelye, Gary L. Johnson, Craig M. dePolo, James E. Faulds, and Jonathan G. Price
edited by Jack Hursh


This report estimates losses from earthquakes that could occur near 38 Nevada communities, including all county seats and major population centers (figure 1). The report uses the loss-estimation computer model of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, HAZUS-MH, to estimate such potential consequences as total economic loss, numbers of buildings receiving extensive to complete damage, number of people needing public shelter and hospital care, and number of fatalities from earthquakes of magnitude 5.0, 5.5, 6.0, 6.5, and 7.0. The report also tabulates earthquake probabilities for these communities from the probabilistic seismic hazard analysis of the U.S. Geological Survey (table 1). Due to the inherent variability between earthquakes and the incomplete and imperfect information about the surface geology of the Earth and human structures, the specific effects of any future earthquake cannot be predicted in detail. The general types and extent of potential effects can be projected, as represented by these loss estimation models. Some factors, such as geologic setting and high visitor volumes, are not modeled by HAZUS but can significantly increase losses and damage.

The primary audiences for this report are emergency managers, emergency responders, and the local and state government officials responsible for action after a natural disaster. HAZUS reports have been quite helpful in response and recovery planning and exercises, identifying opportunities for mitigation, and in the case of an actual earthquake, providing the Governor, through the Chief of the Nevada Division of Emergency Management, with an early estimate of the likely severity of the event. Such information can be critical to decisions regarding disaster declarations, a timely and appropriate emergency response, and securing resources that will be necessary during recovery. As this report covers many of the likely earthquakes that could affect Nevada communities, it also serves as an immediate reference in case of an actual earthquake event, including as a reference point for comparison of the HAZUS reports that the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology produces immediately after a significant earthquake event. Another important audience for this report is the general public, including homeowners, operators of businesses, and individuals responsible for the well-being of others.

This report updates Open-File Report 09-8.

Open-File Report 14-5, CD-ROM, 53 pages of text plus additional pages that are linked from the report, $20.00

Available free on the Web or for purchase:

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