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Imagine That! -- "Tahoe Tsunami"

Imagine That!
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Imagine That! -- "Tahoe Tsunami"

Credit: NSF/Finger Lakes Productions International

Audio Transcript:

(SOUND: waves crashing)

Ah, picture beautiful Lake Tahoe. What comes to mind? Sun? Skiing? Picturesque scenery? How about...30-foot waves?

Imagine that!

(SOUND: earthquake)

That could be a reality someday, according to scientists studying fault movement in the lake's basin. New technology allows Graham Kent and his team at Scripps Institution of Oceanography to calculate the possibility of earthquakes and landslides in this area that could produce tsunami waves up to thirty feet. Using a new device known as CHIRP, which beams acoustic signals at the lake floor, researchers can gather information about its seismic history. The team is also using airborne laser technology and an acoustic mapping system to find new data.

(SOUND: radar beeps)

Along with this new data, their recent development of a sixty-thousand year record of fault movement in the basin is helping the researchers determine where the lake is in its three-thousand year earthquake cycle. Kent hopes that the discoveries will educate the public about earthquakes and resulting tsunami waves, especially in such a densely populated area.

Kent: "The important issue is just to get everyone's awareness, because what we learned from the boxing day tsunami was, in many cases, thirty seconds, sixty seconds, saved hundreds of thousands of lives."

Kent just may win people over by a...landslide. I'm Eric Phillips.

"Imagine That!" covers projects funded by the U.S. government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you, by you! Learn more at

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