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A Little Lake Reveals Clues About Past Megadroughts

Scientists stumbled on Fallen Leaf Lake and the ancient trees under its surface

Miguel Vieira/Flickr

Scientists found important climate clues hidden away under Fallen Leaf Lake, just south of Lake Tahoe.

Graham Kent wasn’t researching megadroughts when he and a team of scientists began studying Fallen Leaf Lake, just south of Lake Tahoe. They were mapping faults. The little lake is a good place to study West Tahoe Fault, which cuts right through it.

“Little did we know it was a natural lab for droughts, as well,” Kent, director of the Nevada Seismological Lab at University of Nevada, Reno, told me over the phone. “So what started out as a seismic hazard endeavor became both a seismic hazard and climate study.”

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