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Geothermal Activity Keeps Sonoma County Shaking

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The cooling tower for the West Ford Flat power plant at The Geysers complex. (RTracy)

The cooling tower for the West Ford Flat power plant at The Geysers complex. (RTracy)

THE GEYSERS (BCN) – The U.S. Geological Survey reported an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 2.4 struck Wednesday morning in Sonoma County.

At 12:49 a.m., the quake shook an area two miles north-northeast of The Geysers, according to the USGS, and had a depth of two miles.

The epicenter was located 12 miles east of Cloverdale, according to the USGS.

In the past seven days, 24 earthquakes of magnitude 2.0 or larger have occurred around The Geysers, with three of those occurring within the past 24 hours.

The Geysers is the largest single geothermal field in the world, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, and the region experiences constant seismic events between 0.5 and 3.0 on the Richter scale.

Deep-well injection at the site, which the Department of Energy says is necessary for the extended and sustained production of geothermal resources at the site, is believed to fuel the region’s seismicity.

The largest event recorded in The Geysers field was a magnitude 4.6 quake in 1973, according to the Department of Energy.

There are 22 active geothermal plants in the region that produce roughly 950 megawatts of power, or enough for about 950,000 homes.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)

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