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U.S. Geological Survey
Open-File Report 2005-1133
Version 1.0

Height Changes Along Selected Lines Through the Death Valley Region, California and Nevada, 1905-1984

By Robert O. Castle, Thomas D. Gilmore, James P. Walker, and Susan A. Castle


map showing Beaty in the north, Indian Springs in the east, Baker in the south, and Olancha in the west
Index map of the greater Death Valley region, California and Nevada (from fig. 1)


Comparisons among repeated levelings along selected lines through the Death Valley region of California and adjacent parts of Nevada have disclosed surprisingly large vertical displacements. The vertical control data in this lightly populated area is sparse; moreover, as much as a third of the recovered data is so thoroughly contaminated by systematic error and survey blunders that no attempt was made to correct these data and they were simply discarded. In spite of these limitations, generally episodic, commonly large vertical displacements are disclosed along a number of lines. Displacements in excess of 0.4 m, with respect to our selected control point at Beatty, Nevada, and differential displacements of about 0.7 m apparently occurred during the earlier years of the 20th century and continued episodically through at least 1943. While this area contains abundant evidence of continuing tectonic activity through latest Quaternary time, it is virtually devoid of historic seismicity. We have detected no clear connection between the described vertical displacements and fault zones reportedly active during Holocene time, although we sense some association with several more broadly defined tectonic features.

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Maintained by: Michael Diggles
Date created: May 12, 2005
Date last modified: May 13, 2005 (mfd)