RENO, Nev. (AP) — The head of the University of Nevada's Seismological Laboratory says a trio of significant earthquakes that struck a remote area along the Sierra's eastern front early Wednesday were big enough to cause as much as $1 billion damage if they'd been centered beneath a big city.

The magnitude 5.5 to 5.7 quakes that began shortly after midnight caused no significant damage where they were centered near rural Hawthorne about 100 miles southeast of Lake Tahoe. But Graham Kent told The Associated Press they likely would have been a "$1 billion event" with fatalities and numerous injuries if it had hit in Reno about 90 miles to the north.

Wednesday's biggest temblor — which was followed by about 20 significant aftershocks — was felt more than 200 miles away in San Francisco and Las Vegas. Kent says it should serve as a reminder that Nevadans live in the third-most seismically active state in the nation behind California and Alaska.

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