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Take a Glimpse at Tahoe's Natural History

TitleTake a Glimpse at Tahoe's Natural History
Author/CreatorCobourn, John; Purdy, Shelly; Segale, Heather M.
Related item(s)Press Release available at
Date Original2004
Summary/DescriptionLake Tahoe Report Segment # 10 - "Tahoe Natural History" (Air Date: April 8, 2003). Geologist Doug Smith discusses how Lake Tahoe was formed and explains why its geology makes it difficult to preserve Lake Tahoe's clarity.
SubjectNatural history -- Tahoe, Lake, Region (Calif. and Nev.)
Geology -- Tahoe, Lake, Region (Calif. and Nev.)
LocationLake Tahoe (Calif. and Nev.)
Tahoe, Lake (Calif. and Nev.)
CollectionThe Lake Tahoe Report
Original PublisherLake Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition (
Electronic PublisherUniversity of Nevada, Reno - Department of Teaching and Learning Technologies
Ordering and Permissions InformationFor more information, contact the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, or 775-832-4138.
Date Digital2004-12-06
RelationRequires Windows Media Player
Resource TypeMoving Image
Contributing InstitutionUniversity of Nevada, Reno
TranscriptionSegment 10 - Air Date: April 8 ((Anchor Intro)) A major strategy of the various organizations working to keep Tahoe blue is to educate the public about Lake Tahoe. That's the purpose of our weekly Lake Tahoe Report. In tonight's segment, Shelly Purdy gives a geologic history lesson about how the lake was formed and explains why that geology makes preserving the amazing clarity of Lake Tahoe so difficult. ((TAKE PKG)) ((Track 1)) It's hard to believe by looking at Lake Tahoe today, but hundreds of millions of years ago this was all just one big mountain range... with no lake at all. A relatively short time ago violent earthquakes pushed the mountains up and caused the bottom to fall out -- leaving the footprint for a future Lake Tahoe. ((SOT - tape 1 @ 20:13 Doug Smith, Geologist)) "As that area was pulling apart part of the blocks dropped out and then five million years ago there were all these volcanic eruptions. Mt. Pluto dammed up the north and these glaciers scraped out all the mountains and filled the lake." ((Track 2)) It was during this period of glacial melting that huge ice rivers carved out current day Emerald Bay. And the lake was filled with pure glacial melt water. It's this unique geology and extreme depth of Lake Tahoe that helps give it it's amazing crystal blue clarity -- but it's also because of that extreme depth that pollution has such a devastating effect. ((SOT - tape 1 @ 20:36)) "The lake is over 1600 feet deep and filled with water that is thousands of years old. So any drop of pollution that goes into the lake stays thee for a long time." ((Track 3)) That's why it's so critical to keep pollutants from getting into Lake Tahoe in the first place. With the Lake Tahoe Education Coalition, I'm Shelly Purdy for KOLO News Channel 8. ((Anchor Tag/Still Store)) If you would like more detailed information about how Lake Tahoe was formed or to learn more about pollutants in Lake Tahoe, visit our website at and go to the links page. In next week's Lake Tahoe Report, Shelly will introduce us to some of the people who are working so hard to protect this valuable resource.

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