Rocking and rolling in Fish Springs

Uh, oh " the earth is trembling again. Hundreds of little aftershocks shaking, rattling, rolling and trembling have been reported in Nevada during the last couple of weeks. They're even talking about Gardnerville having an earthquake last Tuesday morning. Now we're getting close to home. Maybe too close.

Remember in 1994 when Double Springs had a big 6.0 earthquake? That's too close. Then there's the "Monohan's Fault" that runs on the BLM hill right behind our house. Back in 1989 the earth opened up in Fish Springs, but nobody knew it. It was a creeping fault that split the ground open.

I was hiking up the hill behind our house when I first saw it. A large crack, 2-inches wide and deeper than my walking stick, had torn open the earth's surface. I followed the mysterious crack for half a mile. It ran horizontally about one-third up the hillside on the northwest edge of Fish Spring Flat. I called various agencies to report the unusual phenomenon and a geologist came out to investigate. He directed a large backhoe to dig a trench 30 feet long, 5 feet wide and 15 feet deep into the hill. The crack was directly on top of a previously unknown earthquake fault.

The fault goes miles deep into the earth. It's a creeping fault and, curiously, there was no earth shaking when it opened up back in 1989. As it creeps, the east side, which is the lower part of the fissure, has moved down and it stretched the dirt on the surface, pulling it apart. The deep trench that was dug through the fissure showed a dramatic difference in soil color exactly where the fault line runs. One side was a light, tan-white color, and the other side was a reddish-brown. They are totally different geological features. Some kind of tectonic stress may have caused this fault to open up.

This basin and range area that we live in was formed by the process of faulting, and that process continues today. We need to be prepared and self-sufficient, just in case.

I'm writing this week's column while on the way to the Ice House Reservoir in California. Highway 88 is kind of bumpy and I can hardly read my handwriting while I'm sitting in the sidecar of our motorcycle. Fish Springs resident Rick Tomer is leading nine motorcycles and 13 riders on this day-long ride around the beautiful High Sierra. There's a BMW, a Suzuki, a Valkyrie, a Triumph, four Honda Goldwings and a Harley. John Woodward is following in his Jeep chase vehicle.

We left Jethro's restaurant after the monthly breakfast meeting of the Nevada Wandering Wheels Motorcycle Club and headed for the mountains. The route plan was to go on Highway 88 to Highway 89 to Highway 50 and then onto Ice House Road. Hope Valley was pristine this morning with lots of fishermen and spectacular scenery. Dramatic snow-covered mountains were all around us and the weather was perfect.

Both bicycle riders and motorcycle riders enjoy the exciting ride on Ice House Road. Very tall pine trees line both lanes of the twisting and turning road that takes you to the great Ice House Reservoir. The best part of this up and down and all around racy road is " there's no traffic. Very few other vehicles were on the road.

Our daughter Lisa is riding in front of us right now. She's leaning her motorcycle in a sharp left-hand turn like she used to do when she was motocross racing in San Diego. I think she's having too much fun!

Oops, we just got to the entry of the Ice House Reservoir and there seems to be a problem " snow on the road. Nobody wants to ride a motorcycle on an icy road. Looks like we'll have to drive back down. Whoopee, nobody complained about that. We'll be back soon.

n Linda Monohan may be reached at 782-5802.


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