The latest round of seismic analysis for the Lake Tahoe region suggests greater risk than past estimates. The new analysis relies on a new form of high resolution airborne imaging called LiDar. LiDar is able to see through trees and vegetation, providing a more accurate view of the ground.
Prior earthquake activity and fault lines were discovered for the first time with LiDar. The amount of ground movement over time could be measured and used to predict future geologic events.
The study, published by The Geological Society of America, concludes that the faults west of Lake Tahoe, represent a two- to three-fold increase in the seismic hazard assessment for the Lake Tahoe basin. The faults could potentially generate earthquakes with magnitudes ranging from 6.3 to 6.9.
A Richter magnitude of 6.0-6.9 is described as “Strong”. There are 134 worldwide reported occurrences of earthquakes in the Strong range. The San Francisco Bay Area earthquake of 1989 was a 6.9. The earthquake in Japan last year was recorded as 8.9 in magnitude.