Tag Archives: Earthquakes

Effects of the Earthquake near Bodie

I was in Bodie the first week it was open to the public since the magnitude 5.7 earthquakes near Nine Mile Ranch in Fletcher Valley that caused some damage here and startled people through much of the Eastern Sierra region on December 28, 2016. There is visible damage to the walls or contents of several buildings. There’s also an issue with the water system.

Perhaps most serious is damage to the back wall of the DeChambeau Hotel. Some bricks fell away from the top of the wall and other cracks are visible lower in the wall.

DeChambeau Hotel

Brick Wall

Inside the DeChambeau Hotel, bottles on the bar fell over.


Next door in the IOOF building, many of the old bottles that were neatly stacked in a display case fell to the floor and broke.


In the morgue, an open coffin toppled off the back of the table on which it was resting. The lid came off another one standing to its left.


May 2017

Morgue, 2007

October 2007

The Boone Store lost one of the large front windows, now temporarily covered with plywood. Inside, the hat-wearing dress form looks a little worse for her exposure to the elements.

Boone Store

Boone Store

May 2017

Boone Store

June 2013

In the Cain House, bottles toppled from the display shelves inside the front windows.

Over on the northeast side of the Bodie Hills, in Fletcher Valley, the stone walls the historic building at Nine Mile Ranch (the oldest intact building in Mineral County!) were severely damaged. This building is only a mile from the epicenters of the largest quakes.

Nine Mile Nine Mile


Copyright © Tim Messick 2017. All rights reserved.

Another Swarm of Quakes

Late last December, three moderate earthquakes hit Fletcher Valley and rattled much of the eastern Sierra Nevada. An historic stone building at Ninemile Ranch was seriously damaged, and brick walls all around Bodie were tested for their strength. Every day since that event, very small aftershocks have continued to jiggle the valley east of the Bodie Hills.

2017-04-14 Fletcher quakes map

This week, another concentrated swarm of very small quakes (magnitude 0.1 to 2.6) has appeared under Alkali Valley, about 10 miles southeast of the Fletcher Valley epicenters, just east of Mt. Hicks, at the eastern corner of the Bodie Hills. The aftershocks have been tapering off in Fletcher Valley (only 28 in the last 7 days), but Alkali Valley has felt 120 tremors in just the last 2 days. The maps above and below are from the US Geological Survey’s “Latest Earthquakes” web map of the area (to which I’ve added some place names).

2017-04-14 Fletcher quakes context

Will Alkali Valley experience a stronger event soon—one that people in the area could actually feel? Maybe not. We’ll see. The region east of Mono Lake and the Bodie Hills is part of a seismically active region along the west edge of the Great Basin, known as the Walker Lane. Just 4 miles north of the Alkali Valley tremors is the most recent volcanic feature adjacent to the Bodie Hills—the late Pleistocene (less than 100,000 years old) trachyandesite lava dome of Mud Spring. Earlier in the Pleistocene, Lake Russel (the much larger ancestral Mono Lake) actually overflowed northward from what is now Alkali Valley, into Fletcher Valley and the East Walker River. Volcanism and uplift in the Mount Hicks area eventually raised the outlet higher than the fluctuating lake level, and a different spillway developed later, southeastward into Adobe Valley.

This is an actively evolving terrain, even on a human timescale. That’s just one of the reasons I love the Great Basin and eastern Sierra Nevada landscape.

UPDATE a week later: 204 quakes in the Alkali Valley area during the last 7 days. The strongest, magnitude 3.1.

Copyright © Tim Messick 2017. All rights reserved.

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 Earthquake-Report.com, 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.