Finding Faults—How the Burgeoning Walker Lane May Split the American West
By Mike Wolterbeek, Nevada Today, February 18, 2020
Excerpts: “California won’t fall into the ocean, but it could get nudged hundreds of miles offshore, making Nevada the new coastline of the continent, scientists at the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology at the University of Nevada, Reno hypothesize. They have combined decades of data and the latest technology to study the Walker Lane, an approximately 1000-kilometer-long (625 miles) corridor riddled with hundreds of earthquake faults.
Several researchers at the University are part of a group of scientists who are studying the massive system of relatively discontinuous faults that runs through western Nevada. It is known as the Walker Lane and in about 7-8 million years or so could become the new tectonic boundary between the North American and Pacific plates. The group at the University is relatively rare, as it includes expertise that analyzes fault zones at three different time scales from tens of millions of years (structural geology/tectonics) to the past approximately two million years (paleoseismology) to the present (geodesy). This combination of expertise is needed to understand the evolution of something potentially as grand as the Walker Lane. In essence, the University team combines the most modern fieldwork techniques with the latest technologies such as satellites, LIDAR and computer simulations…”
“But it’s the combination of three science disciplines that illustrates the prominence of the Walker Lane – paleoseismology, geodesy and Faulds’ specialty of structural geology/tectonics. All three perspectives are crucial in analyzing something like the Walker Lane, because they provide three different timeframes with which to evaluate the evolution of the Walker Lane – from what’s happening now, to the past million years or so, and to the long-term (back-tracking tens of millions of years). We have all three disciplines in the College of Science at the University of Nevada, Reno…”
The NBMG research team described in this story includes Jim Faulds, Rich Koehler, Jayne Bormann, Bill Hammond, Corné Kreemer, Geoffrey Blewitt, Seth Dee, Chris Henry, and students Colin Chupik and Conni De Masi.