Archive for June, 2011

New Earthquake Fault Discovered

June 17th, 2011 -- Posted in Earthquakes | No Comments »

by Victoria M. Johnson

Another earthquake fault was discovered near Truckee, California, a town about 35 miles from Reno. Using laser imaging technology, the scientists with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers discovered the fault while they were inspecting the Martis Creek Dam, a dam that already had major safety concerns due to considerable leakage and it’s proximity to three fault zones.

Strike-Slip Fault

Named Polaris, the new fault is an active 22-mile long strike-slip fault. The last time Polaris caused an earthquake was 15,000 years ago. Lewis Hunter, a senior geologist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, says the fault could trigger a 6.5 to 6.9 magnitude earthquake. But because the fault connects to others, the magnitude could be even higher if they ruptured at the same time. Polaris holds the added potential of producing a flood if the Martis Creek Dam is damaged during quake activity.

Though the discovery of Polaris was unexpected, scientists claim there are hundreds of unknown faults around the world.

Volcano Erupts in Chile

June 5th, 2011 -- Posted in Volcanoes | No Comments »

by Victoria M. Johnson

The eruption of the Puyehue-Cordon-Caulle volcano chain has prompted the mass evacuation of thousands of residents in southern Chile. Located about 500 miles south of the capital, Santiago, the eruption has spewed volumes of smoke and ash. So far no lava flows have been observed.

Chile Volcano Eruption

As the strong smell of sulfur filled the air, officials said the volcano was spitting molten rock. Witnesses reported experiencing more than 20 earthquakes. No injuries have been reported.

“The Cordon Caulle (volcanic range) has entered an eruptive process, with an explosion resulting in a 10-kilometer-high gas column,” Chilean state emergency office ONEMI said. According to MSNBC, it was not immediately clear which of the chain’s four volcanoes had erupted because of ash cover and weather conditions.

The chain last saw a major eruption in 1960. Chile’s chain of about 2,000 volcanoes is the world’s second largest after Indonesia. Some 50 to 60 are on record as having erupted. Chile’s Chaiten volcano erupted in 2008 for the first time in thousands of years. Chile’s Llaima volcano, one of South America’s most active, erupted in 2008 and 2009.