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Airborne LiDAR analysis and geochronology of faulted glacial moraines in the Tahoe-Sierra frontal fault zone reveal substantial seismic hazards in the Lake Tahoe region, California-Nevada USA

GSA Bulletin

By:
, , , , , ,
DOI: 10.1130/B30598.1

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Abstract

We integrated high-resolution bare-earth airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) imagery with field observations and modern geochronology to characterize the Tahoe-Sierra frontal fault zone, which forms the neotectonic boundary between the Sierra Nevada and the Basin and Range Province west of Lake Tahoe. The LiDAR imagery clearly delineates active normal faults that have displaced late Pleistocene glacial moraines and Holocene alluvium along 30 km of linear, right-stepping range front of the Tahoe-Sierra frontal fault zone. Herein, we illustrate and describe the tectonic geomorphology of faulted lateral moraines. We have developed new, three-dimensional modeling techniques that utilize the high-resolution LiDAR data to determine tectonic displacements of moraine crests and alluvium. The statistically robust displacement models combined with new ages of the displaced Tioga (20.8 ± 1.4 ka) and Tahoe (69.2 ± 4.8 ka; 73.2 ± 8.7 ka) moraines are used to estimate the minimum vertical separation rate at 17 sites along the Tahoe-Sierra frontal fault zone. Near the northern end of the study area, the minimum vertical separation rate is 1.5 ± 0.4 mm/yr, which represents a two- to threefold increase in estimates of seismic moment for the Lake Tahoe basin. From this study, we conclude that potential earthquake moment magnitudes (Mw) range from 6.3 ± 0.25 to 6.9 ± 0.25. A close spatial association of landslides and active faults suggests that landslides have been seismically triggered. Our study underscores that the Tahoe-Sierra frontal fault zone poses substantial seismic and landslide hazards.

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Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Airborne LiDAR analysis and geochronology of faulted glacial moraines in the Tahoe-Sierra frontal fault zone reveal substantial seismic hazards in the Lake Tahoe region, California-Nevada USA
Series title:
GSA Bulletin
DOI:
10.1130/B30598.1
Volume
124
Issue:
7-8
Year Published:
2012
Language:
English
Publisher:
Geological Society of America
Contributing office(s):
Western Geographic Science Center
Description:
14 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
GSA Bulletin
First page:
1087
Last page:
1101
Country:
United States
State:
California;Nevada
Other Geospatial:
Lake Tahoe