The San Andreas Fault, where the North American and the Pacific tectonic plates meet, is long known as the “heavyweight champion” of earthquake faults. But now, there may be a new and equally scary contender.
About an hour travel from Nevada border, there lies Mono Lake. With it’s “bulbous and surreal formations”, even a lay person will find it fascinating. It is there that Nevada geologist James Faulds found clues to a great tectonic mystery unfolding in the American West.
If he’s right, all of this, from the wastes of the Mojave Desert to the night-lit casinos of Reno, will someday be beachfront property.
Faulds thinks he’s found the spot. It’s an emerging zone of instability, known as the Walker Lane, that closely follows Route 395. He believes that, over the next 8 million to 10 million years, the North American continent will unzip along this stretch of land, east of the San Andreas. The Gulf of California, which separates the Baja Peninsula from Mexico, will surge north into Nevada, turning thousands of square miles of dry land into ocean floor.
Image: Tabitha Soren