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Tahoe earthquake ‘domino effect’ studied


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By Jeff DeLong, Reno Gazette-Journal

With the frightening potential of a massive earthquake and tsunami striking the Pacific Northwest under increasing discussion, scientists are also focusing attention on possible connections between that area and dangerous faults at Lake Tahoe.

Graham Kent, a South Tahoe High grad, is in charge of UNR's seismic lab. Photo/LTN file

Graham Kent, a South Tahoe High grad, is in charge of UNR’s seismic lab. Photo/LTN file

There, like along the coastlines of Washington, Oregon and Northern California, a big quake could someday trigger a deadly tsunami, with some preliminary research suggesting seismic connections between the areas.

“If everything in this region is synchronized, all of a sudden there could be a domino effect” after a big quake in the northwest, said Graham Kent, director of the Nevada Seismological Laboratory at UNR.

“We know these things have a long arm,” Kent said.

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Comments (4)
  1. Mama Bear says - Posted: September 9, 2015

    “The sky is falling, the sky is falling!”

  2. Old Long Skiis says - Posted: September 9, 2015

    Yikes! The long awaited Tahoe Tsunami could be on its way! Hoist those those kayaks and paddle boards suspended by ropes to your tallest pine and get ready to ride the big wave. OLS

  3. Sunriser2 says - Posted: September 10, 2015

    We need a multi billion dollar government study. Maybe two or three just to be sure.

  4. Cranky Gerald says - Posted: September 10, 2015

    The NY Times article did not expose information that was not available to the seismic and geological community. After all, they were the ones who developed it.

    The Times simply publicized it and projected what MIGHT happen IF an 8 or 9 level hit the northwest.
    There are the “chicken littles” out there that assume if the Times said it, you better pack up and run like hell because IT IS COMING.

    There is not enough money in the world to prepare for such an event. We are committed to millions of people living on our coasts and the coasts of the world. This has been the practice since humanoids began moving around the globe.

    Of course there are no hard statistics that do more than hint at any frequency for large quakes so it is truly an impossible task to do more than acknowledge a possibility. Tsunamis do not happen with every quake, and most of the ones on record had little danger to them. Of course volcanic events also commonly occur in subduction zones….remember Mt. St. Helens in 1980 or so? Really impressive but only killed the handful of people stupid or unfortunate enough to go there and hang out while it was erupting and exploding.

    What should we do to avoid getting caught in a large seismic event? How about we just MOVE. Go to the center of the country where there is no water to create a Tsunami, and where the same statistical data base which acknowledges the “dangers” of large seismic events in the Pacific Northwest show lower seismic risk.

    Of course, (oh crap), the center of the country has very common tornadoes, hurricanes and floods, so you ain’t safe there either.

    I have no official data at my fingertips, but in my 65 odd years on earth, I recall more people deaths from floods, tornadoes and hurricanes in North America than all the earthquakes in the historic record.

    In my opinion the questions brought out in the NY Times article and in Kent’s presentation are largely academic. Nothing is predictable except on very long time frames.

    There is no solution for avoiding the possibility, and a plan for what to do if IT happens is pretty much to stockpile some food and water and try to get out of the event’s way.

    The most dangerous thing on earth, and the thing responsible for the greatest loss of life on earth than CAN be dealt with is our proclivity for war.
    PEOPLE are the most dangerous force we face, far more likely to kill you than all the natural disasters rolled into one.

    Think about that the next time you get worried and the US is thinking about sending troops across the world to keep us “safe”.
    Again, (oh crap), we are doing that today!

    Face it, one way or another, we stand a significant chance of being screwed no matter what we do.