Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Continuing Earthquake Activity At Mono Lake

Mono Lake quake swarm continues. As of this writing there have been now more than 40 localized quakes SE of the lake, concentrated in a 2 mile cluster on the surface, with most quakes occurring at a depth of approximately 5-6km. This so far has still not been reviewed or analyzed by any USGS authority that I am aware of. It is entirely possible that they consider this to be routine activity. I would however be pleased to see an analysis whether or not there is any harmonic tremor, or if these quakes are in any way volcanic in nature.

The last eruptions of Mono Lake occurred a 'mere' couple hundred years ago, when a  rhyolitic cryptodome uplifted parts of the lake, and created the famed tufa towers along the lake rim. There are tens of volcanic cones and other volcanic features in the area, which is also close, but not related to, the Long Valley Caldera. Other quake swarms have occurred further to the ESE or the Mono Lake Swarm, and this raises the question as to whether or not these quakes are preceding a minor eruption in the area.

Time will tell. This could be purely tectonic, but judging by the locations and depths of these quakes, it is my opinion that this ought to be looked at by geologists and an analysis should be made public. I will continue to monitor the situation.

As requests (in comments below) come in as to what tool I am using to monitor the quakes, I have provided links to the very USGS plugin I use for Google Earth. I find it extremely useful.

In any case, here is a screenshot of the latest data that the KML file provides. Data is updated every 5 minutes, with earthquakes in the last hour appearing as red, the last 24 hours as orange, and the last week as yellow. Clicking on each dot will being up the details of the quake, with links to the official USGS analysis.

Enjoy the screenshots!


  1. the USGS i normally use shows no quakes:

    what site are you using ??

  2. I am using the USGS real-time earthquake plugin for Google Earth. The plugin for Google Earth can be downloaded here:

    I do not use the one that is color coded for depth, as when you click on an earthquake, it tells you the depth anyway. It updates every 5 minutes.

    Hope that helps!

  3. The tool is also useful for quakes larger than 3.5 as you can click on "show shakemap" which shows a color coded area which details the strength of shaking in the areas around the quakes. Extremely useful.

    The USGS page where they display the earthquakes with no terrain data, and represent by overlapping squares is something I find annoying, so typically I will use Google Earth. I can post screenshots later of what I'm talking about.

  4. I updated the blog post to display screenshots of the USGS KMZ tool for Google Earth, I hope that this is useful to you!

  5. Uhmmm ... volcanic activity did not create the famed tufa towers along the lake rim. It was precipitation of calcium carbonate when sub aqueous fresh water springs reacted with the alkaline lake waters. Regardless the small swarm on the east side of the lake is very interesting.


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