Earthquakes in central Nevada (1932–1959) were used to develop a modified Mercalli intensity (mmi) attenuation model for estimating moment magnitude M for earthquakes in the Basin and Range province of interior western North America. M is 7.4–7.5 for the 26 March 1872 Owens Valley, California, earthquake, in agreement with Beanland and Clark’s (1994),M 7.6 that was estimated from geologic field observations. M is 7.5 for the 3 May 1887 Sonora, Mexico, earthquake, in agreement with Natali and Sbar’s (1982),M 7.4 and Suter’s (2006)M 7.5, both estimated from geologic field observations.
mmi at sites in California for earthquakes in the Nevada Basin and Range apparently are not much affected by the Sierra Nevada except at sites near the Sierra Nevada where mmi is reduced. This reduction in mmi is consistent with a shadow zone produced by the root of the Sierra Nevada. In contrast, mmi assignments for earthquakes located in the eastern Sierra Nevada near the west margin of the Basin and Range are greater than predicted at sites in California. These higher mmi values may result from critical reflections due to layering near the base of the Sierra Nevada.