University of Nevada, Reno researchers have for the first time recorded a cluster of nearly 1,600 small earthquakes 20 miles beneath Lake Tahoe -- the worlds second-largest alpine lake. Based on observations from the universitys Nevada Seismic Network and an ultra-sensitive Global Positioning System (GPS) station at Slide Mountain, the researchers believe the quake cluster coincided with an unprecedented 8-millimeter uplifting of the ski resort mountain in the Sierra Nevada.
University research scientists Geoff Blewitt, left, and Ken Smith, check on a GPS antenna atop 9,520-ft. Slide Mountain. The two discovered that a recent cluster of small earthquakes about 20 miles below Lake Tahoe, pictured in the background, have caused the antenna to rise and move northwest approximately 10 millimeters. Photo by Jean Dixon.
"Weve been watching earthquakes for 30 years in the Tahoe area and have never witnessed an earthquake swarm anything like this," said Ken Smith, research seismologist at the universitys Nevada Seismological Laboratory and principal author of an article to be published in August in the journal, Science, and on its Science Express Web site on Aug. 5.The deep earthquake activity occurred from Aug. 12, 2003 through Feb. 19, 2004 and then stopped. "We havent seen any more deep earthquakes or notable movement at the Slide Mountain GPS station since," Smith said.
Geoff Blewitt, a research geophysicist with the universitys Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology and co-author of the Science article, added that the centimeter uplift at Slide Mountain "can be explained by the movement of magma about 20 miles deep, which forced several miles of rock apart by about 1 meter."
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