Nevada Digital News

Science Behind Nevada's 2020 Earthquake


In the early morning of May 15, 2020, a magnitude 6.5 earthquake shook Nevada awake. The largest since 1954! This quake occurred in a fascinating seismically active area called The Walker Lane. Learn about this and the Mina deflection from the geologists at UT Dallas’ GeoScience Studio

– Special thanks to our scientific advisors for this episode –
Dr. Nick Mueller and Dr. Scott Kerstetter for their invaluable information on the Mina deflection and the surrounding area and thanks to Dr.Timothy Dixon and Taha Chorsi for their work with the interferometry figures used in this episode

Written By – R.J. Stern, Ning Wang, Zach Clowdus, Scott Kerstetter, Nick Mueller
Presentation and Narration – Ali Sealander
Video Editing – Zach Clowdus
Opening Title Animation – Alayna Wilson

References and Papers for the nerds!

Kerstetter, S. R., 2018. Late Oligocene to Early Miocene North-South Extension in the Western Great Basin (Doctoral dissertation, U TX Dallas).

Link to Kerstetter dissertation:

Mueller, N. J., 2019. Pliocene Kinematic Reorganization, Fault Geometry, Basin Evolution, and Displacement Budget Along the Furnace Creek–Fish Lake Valley Fault Zone, Eastern California and Western Nevada (Doctoral dissertation, U TX Dallas).

Link to Mueller dissertation:

Beaver Seeds - Get Out and Grow Spring Sasquatch 300x250

“Splitting North America – The Walker Lane – Part 1 – The Tectonics”

Carlson, C.W.; Pluhar, C.J.; Glen, J.M.G., and Farner, M.J. 2013. Kinematics of the west-central Walker Lane: Spatially and temporally variable rotations evident in the Late Miocene Stanislaus Group. Geosphere; 9 (6): 1530–1551.

Ryall, A., and Priestley, K., 1975, Seismicity, secular strain, and maximum magnitude in the Excelsior Mountains area, western Nevada and eastern California, Geological Society of America Bulletin v. 86, no. 11, 1585-1592.

Albers, J. P., and Stewart, J.H., 1965. Preliminary Geologic Map of Esmeralda County, Nevada. USGS Miscellaneous Field Studies Map MF-298

Additional Credits

Radar – By Eschwabe3 from (
Heavy Thunder – By BlueDelta from (
Rock Scrape – By Benboncan from (
Slot machine – By JoannaLuna from (

Las Vegas sign – Thomas Wolf,
Gold – Photo by Getty
Emigrant Peak Fault and other field images – Scott Kerstetter & Nick Mueller
Fault Map – MyHAZARDS – Nevada from
Group of miners – Unknown author / Public domain from
Desert Mountains – By Rana Obaid from
Interferogram and Displacement Map – Timothy Dixon & Taha Chorsi
By from Pexels
Nevada Mountains – Sydnet Martinez/TravelNevada from (
Earthquake Aftershocks –
Image of Satellite – ESA/ATG medialab (
Image of Silver Mineral –

Compass – By Miguel A. Padrinan from
Maps made with


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