Geologist gets national attention for plate tectonics theory

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) When you think of earthquakes on the west coast, the San Andreas Fault typically comes to mind, but in the future, that could change.

“There is really no disagreement that today the San Andreas Fault is the primary plate boundary,” said geologist Jim Faulds. “The question is what will happen in the future.”

Faulds is Nevada’s state geologist and director at the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, and he has spent years looking into the impact that plate tectonics will have on our area.

“Some of the major faults in western Nevada could reorganize themselves into becoming the major plate boundary.”

Faulds says the course of 8 to 10 million years, plate movement will essentially result in the gulf of California extending all the way to northern Nevada, along a zone known as the Walker Lane, which runs along the land where you will currently find U.S. 395.

“You can see physical evidence in a number of locations,” he explained, adding that some of that evidence is near Pyramid Lake.

And while there it’s important to emphasize just how far in the future this all is, there are benefits that stem from it today.

“It puts us in a great situation for geothermal resources,” he said. “It’s one of the reasons we have a lot of geothermal activity in the region – which is a great source of low carbon footprint renewable energy.”

The theory has resulted in Faulds getting national attention. Wired Magazine did a story on him in April of 2019.