New Earthquake Fault Discovered

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.

June 17 2011 11:34 pm | Earthquakes

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