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Lake Tahoe map due next week

Andy Bourelle

Facts about Lake Tahoe

Size:

12 miles wide

22 miles long

71 miles of shoreline

192 square miles of surface

Maximum depth: 1,645 feet

Average depth: 1,027 feet

(Figures could change with results of the study)

by Andy Bourelle

The last time the bottom of Lake Tahoe was mapped was in the 1920s. Since then, technology has changed drastically. Next week a new, up-to-date, three-dimensional map will be completed of the lake.

“We’ll be able to provide a three-dimensional, computer-generated image of the Lake,” said Michael V. Shulters, acting western regional director of the U.S. Geological Survey. “It will show all the canyons and the erosion, things like that, things that right now are out of our view. It’s very visual. It will be as though you’re looking at the lake without any water in it.”

USGS workers started collecting data Monday, and Shulters said the map should be completed and available for other scientists and researchers on Aug. 12.

The mapping comes as a result of the 1997 Lake Tahoe Presidential Forum, and Shulters said the information gathered will assist numerous agencies studying the Lake.

“It has a number of benefits,” Shulters said. “A number of scientists working out here need good information about Lake Tahoe. A number of agencies and universities will want to see what it is we’re doing.”

The technology used for the mapping previously has been implemented for ocean work, and this is the first time it is being applied to a lake. However, Shulters said this project may be the foundation for using the technology on other inland bodies of water.

Shulters said a boat must cover the entire lake to collect the data.

“It’s like mowing a lawn. You mow a long swath down one end, then you turn around and go back the other way, overlapping a little,” he said. “That’s exactly how it is. The boat goes back and forth, overlapping a little to put the images together.”

The USGS researchers are working on the project out of Tahoe City, and on Aug. 12 researchers and resource managers will converge there to see the up-to-date map. Additionally, U.S. Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt is expected to attend.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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