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Scripps studies offer new picture of Lake Tahoe's earthquake potential
Date:4/29/2009

of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (BSSA), Scripps graduate student Danny Brothers investigated the rupture history of the West Tahoe Fault in greater detail. Using comprehensive CHIRP and coring surveys of Fallen Leaf Lake, where the West Tahoe Fault crosses the southern end of the lake, the study confirmed the suspected fault length of over 50 km (31 miles). When combined with the rupture offset size observed across the fault from CHIRP imagery, the analysis suggests an upper limit of a magnitude-7.3 earthquake for the basin's most dangerous fault.

This new analysis, coupled with a slip-rate approaching 0.8 mm/year and the rupture timeline taking place between 4,100 and 4,500 years ago, places the West Tahoe Fault near the end of its characteristic earthquake cycle. Researchers caution that some degree of variability is to be expected. Such an earthquake could produce tsunami waves some three to 10 meters (10 to 33 feet) high, colleagues at the University of Nevada, Reno, have shown.

Lake Tahoe, which straddles the California and Nevada border in the Sierra Nevada region, is one of the world's deepest freshwater lakes. At more than 501 meters (1,645 feet) deep, the lake covers 191 square miles in a basin prone to earthquakes and catastrophic landslides. The West Tahoe Fault runs along the west shore of the lake and comes onshore at Baldwin Beach, then passes through the southern third of Fallen Leaf Lake, where it descends into Christmas Valley near Echo Summit.


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Contact: Annie Reisewitz or Robert Monroe
scrippsnews@ucsd.edu
858-534-3624
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert  

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