Monthly Archives: December 2016

Earthquakes in Fletcher Valley

Early this morning (December 28, 2016), 18 minutes after midnight, there was a magnitude 5.7 earthquake in Fletcher Valley, just east of the Bodie Hills. Four minutes later there was another, also 5.7, about a mile north of the first. Then 51 minutes later, there was a third tremor, magnitude 5.5, less than half a mile east of the first one. All three occurred about 5 to 7.5 miles beneath the valley floor. During the next 10 hours another 30 small quakes of magnitudes between 2.5 and 4.1 occurred in central Fletcher Valley and the eastern Bodie Hills. Another 86, much smaller, were under magnitude 2.5.

Fletcher Valley Earthquakes

Epicenters of the 3 initial earthquakes (USGS).

Fletcher Valley Earthquakes

Epicenters of the all earthquakes in the following 15 hours (USGS).

Fletcher Valley Aftershocks

A day later: here’s a map showing all the aftershocks as of about 35 hours after the initial jolt. Dots for the initial 3 quakes are outlined in red (USGS).

Fletcher Valley

Where it happened: the epicenters of the 5.5–5.7 earthquakes were out there
in the sunny area and in the shadows beyond. The Wassuk Range is in the background (July 2016).

Fletcher Valley is a pretty remote and empty place, so did anyone feel it? Yes indeed, and over a fairly wide area. According to the event page at, people felt light to moderate shaking throughout west-central Nevada, the central Sierra Nevada mountains, and across the southern Sacramento and northern San Joaquin Valleys—even in San Francisco. Sorry to say, I didn’t notice anything (at home in Davis).

People up and down the east and west sides of the central Sierra reported beds shaking, glasses rattling on shelves, and startled dogs. There was, sadly, “severe damage” to the historic stone-walled house at Ninemile Ranch (the only house in Fletcher Valley). The quakes rattled Lee Vining (post on the Mono Lake Committee site). The road through Bodie Canyon (a.k.a. Del Monte Canyon) was closed by boulders dislodged from cliffs above.The Bodie State Historic Park web page reports, “The park will be closed due to the recent earthquake in Hawthorne NV. We are assessing any damage that may have occurred in the park and will reopen as soon as possible.”

Here’s another blog post, on the geology of this event, from Jay Patton, professor of geology at Humboldt State University.

Fletcher Valley

Fletcher Valley from the north (September 2016).

Fletcher Valley

Fletcher Valley from the west (September 2016).

Fletcher Valley

Looking northeast across Fletcher Valley to the Wassuk Range. Hawthorne
and Walker Lake are on the other side (July 2016).

Ninemile Ranch

The old house at Ninemile Ranch (circa mid-1860s) was severely damaged
(July 2016 photo).

Copyright © Tim Messick 2017. All rights reserved.