Vol. 38 (2015)
Research Project Geology

A High-Resolution Geophysical Survey of Jenny Lake: Using Lake Sediments to Construct a Continuous Record of Tectonic Activity and Earthquake-Triggered Disturbances at Grand Teton National Park

Darren J. Larsen
Occidental College
Mark B. Abbot
University of Pittsburgh

Published 2015-01-01


The Teton Range, WY contains a legacy of late Cenozoic uplift and periodic Quaternary glaciations. Well-preserved fault scarps along the Teton fault displace glacier deposits from the most recent (Pinedale) glaciation and provide evidence for high fault activity during the past ~15,000 years. Observations of these scarps and previous field investigations indicate that postglacial fault offset occurred through a series of major, scarp-forming earthquakes. However, the postglacial paleoseismic record of the Teton fault remains incomplete. The goal of this project is to use lake sediments, contained in lake basins positioned on the fault, to construct a history of the timing and frequency of past earthquakes at Grand Teton National Park, and assess seismic impacts on diment erosion (e.g., landslides, debris flows, slope failures) and future hazard potential. Here, we report on multibeam sonar bathymetry and seismic reflection images from Jenny Lake, collected as part of an effort to identify glacial and tectonic landforms and to characterize infill stratigraphy. Our overarching objective is to combine these datasets with lake sediment cores from Jenny Lake and other nearby lakes to construct a continuous, accurately-dated record of past earthquakes and earthquake-generated slope failures in the Tetons.