Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rapid Sierra Nevada uplift tracked by scientists at the University of Nevada, Reno

04.05.2012
Nevada Geodetic Lab uses GPS and radar for most precise measurements over entire mountain range

From the highest peak in the continental United States, Mt. Whitney at 14,000 feet in elevation, to the 10,000-foot-peaks near Lake Tahoe, scientific evidence from the University of Nevada, Reno shows the entire Sierra Nevada mountain range is rising at the relatively fast rate of 1 to 2 millimeters every year.

"The exciting thing is we can watch the range growing in real time," University of Nevada, Reno's Bill Hammond, lead researcher on the multi-year project to track the rising range, said. "Using data back to before 2000 we can see it with accuracy better than 1 millimeter per year. Perhaps even more amazing is that these miniscule changes are measured using satellites in space."

Miniscule as they may be, the data indicate that long-term trends in crustal uplift suggest the modern Sierra could be formed in less than 3 million years, which is relatively quick when compared to estimates using some geological techniques.

Hammond and his colleagues in the University's Nevada Geodetic Laboratory and University of Glasgow use satellite-based GPS data and InSAR (space-based radar) data to calculate the movements to this unprecedented accuracy. The calculations show that the crust moves upward compared to Earth's center of mass and compared to relatively stable eastern Nevada.

The data may help resolve an active debate regarding the age of the modern Sierra Nevada of California and Nevada in the western United States. The history of elevation is complex, exhibiting features of both ancient (40 million years) and relatively young (less than 3 million years) elevation. The "young" elevation is the uplift Hammond and colleagues have tracked.

"The Sierra Nevada uplift process is fairly unique on Earth and not well understood." Hammond said. "Our data indicate that uplift is distributed along the entire length of the 400-mile-long range, between 35 and 40 degrees north latitude, that it is active, and could have generated the entire range is less than 3 million years, which is young compared to estimates based on some other techniques. It basically means that the latest pulse of uplift is still ongoing."

Possibly contributing to the rapid uplift is the tectonic extension in Nevada and a response to flow in the mantle. Seismologists indicate the mountain range may have risen when a fragment of lower plate peeled off the bottom of the lithosphere allowing the "speedy" uplift, like a ship that has lost its keel. In comparison, other ranges, such as the Alps or Andes, are being formed in an entirely different process caused by contraction as two plates collide.

"We've integrated GPS and InSAR measurement techniques, drawing from experience we developed in the past five years in our work with tectonic deformation, to see how the Sierra is gradually being pushed upwards," Hammond said. "Combined with more GPS stations, and more radar data, detecting motions in the Earth is becoming more precise and ubiquitous. We can see the steady and constant motion of the Sierra in addition to episodic events such as earthquakes."

Hammond's team includes Geoff Blewitt, Hans-Peter Plag and Corné Kreemer from the University of Nevada, Reno's College of Science and Zhenhong Li of the Centre for the Observation and Modeling of Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Tectonics, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow in the UK.

GPS data for Hammond and his team's research is collected through the team's MAGNET GPS Network based at the University of Nevada, Reno plus more than 1200 stations from the NSF EarthScope Plate Boundary Observatory and more than 10,000 stations from around the entire planet. These stations include hundreds that cover Nevada, California, Oregon, and Washington. The space-based radar data comes from the European Space Agency with support from NASA.

This research was funded in the United States by the National Science Foundation and NASA and in the United Kingdom by the Natural Environment Research Council.

Their paper, "Contemporary Uplift of the Sierra Nevada, western United States, from GPS and InSAR Measurements" will be published in the peer-reviewed journal Geology in July and has just been made available online.

For more information on Hammond, go to http://www.nbmg.unr.edu/Staff/Hammond.html. For the Nevada Geodetic Laboratory go to http://geodesy.unr.edu.

The University of Nevada, Reno has the largest GPS data-processing center in the world, which processes information from about 10,000 stations around the globe continuously, 24/7. The Nevada Geodetic Laboratory has all publicly available GPS data going back to 1996 and reprocesses all 15-million data files as new data streams come in – every 30 seconds – solving for tens of thousands of parameters at once. It enables real-time positioning for any users. People around the world use it extensively for research such as modeling earthquakes and volcanoes. The information is freely available to anyone on the Internet.

Nevada's land-grant university founded in 1874, the University of Nevada, Reno has an enrollment of 18,000 students and is ranked in the top tier of the nation's best universities. Part of the Nevada System of Higher Education, the University has the system's largest research program and is home to the state's medical school. With outreach and education programs in all Nevada counties and with one of the nation's largest study-abroad consortiums, the University extends across the state and around the world.

Mike Wolterbeek | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.unr.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht New plate adds plot twist to ancient tectonic tale
15.08.2017 | Rice University

nachricht Global warming will leave different fingerprints on global subtropical anticyclones
14.08.2017 | Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

Im Focus: Scientists improve forecast of increasing hazard on Ecuadorian volcano

Researchers from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the Italian Space Agency (ASI), and the Instituto Geofisico--Escuela Politecnica Nacional (IGEPN) of Ecuador, showed an increasing volcanic danger on Cotopaxi in Ecuador using a powerful technique known as Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR).

The Andes region in which Cotopaxi volcano is located is known to contain some of the world's most serious volcanic hazard. A mid- to large-size eruption has...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New thruster design increases efficiency for future spaceflight

16.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Transporting spin: A graphene and boron nitride heterostructure creates large spin signals

16.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

A new method for the 3-D printing of living tissues

16.08.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>