Wednesday, April 23, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Phantom forest at Tahoe reveals past climate change

John Kleppe, PhD

JOHN KLEPPE holds an 800-year-old slab of yellow pine brought up from Fallen Leaf Lake. Photo courtesy Mountain Counties Water Resources Association

On March 15, Mountain Counties Water Resources Association, in conjunction with the Association of California Water Agencies Region 3, met at the Ridge Golf Course and Event Center in Auburn to hear the latest on climate change.

John Kleppe, whose home is on the shores of Fallen Leaf Lake, brought evidence of a 300-year-drought in the Lake Tahoe area. If it happens again, will we be ready? he asked.

John Kleppe is professor emeritus at University of Nevada, Reno, where he was chairman of the Electrical Engineering Department.

Dr. Kleppe often takes his boat out to fish on Fallen Leaf Lake. Fallen Leaf Lake is one mile south of Lake Tahoe and 500 feet higher. It is a small lake, almost three miles long and a mile wide. The average depth is 240 feet. The deepest part is 492 feet.

For many years, Kleppe’s line kept bumping into something and he was puzzled why. What he caught was not a rare species of fish, but something even more rare — a tree from a forest dating back to medieval times.

Although the clarity of the lake is high, he could not see anything underwater. As a scientist, this was a mystery he had to solve. He tried SONAR, but got no soundings. In the late 1990s, he hired a diver, who quickly surfaced with a branch in hand. Kleppe sent a sample to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for carbon dating.

The tree, a yellow pine, dated back to around 1215 A.D. It had mineralized, and was as perfectly preserved as a marble statue. It was waterlogged, so it absorbs SONAR.

Further investigation revealed a number of trees nearly 100 feet tall and 15 feet in diameter, indicating they were over 200 years old when they died. This signifies that a “mega drought” occurred during the medieval period around 850 to 1150 A.D. The dry period was followed by an extremely wet period. There are signs that another lengthy drought occurred later.

Three older trees were discovered, suggesting that severe droughts happened farther back in time.

These longer cycles are different that the shorter fluctuations that have been recorded in the last 150 years.

Graham Kent, University of Reno Seismology Lab director, used a remotely operated underwater vehicle to create high-definition fault mapping of the bottom of Fallen Leaf Lake. His team traced the west Tahoe fault line. It is a 7.3 capable normal fault. Kleppe said Kent believes it may be ripe for action.

Kleppe said there is “a disconnect between science and society. We need to separate funny science from real science. We need to start saving water.”

For more information, including a report on the entire meeting, visit mountaincountieswater.com.

Mountain Counties Water Resources Association

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 26 comments

  • cookie65May 17, 2013 - 6:51 am

    If I understand this correctly, he discovered trees 15 in diameter that have completely petrified over the last 800 years. Fallen Leaf Lake was caused by glaciers around a million years ago. Which would mean that if the tree is as young as claimed it would have had to grow to its 200 ft height and 15 diameter while under water. To say that this tree died because of a mega drought would mean it is considerably older than a million years.

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  • Phil VeerkampMay 17, 2013 - 8:30 am

    I understand how a mega drought would empty the lake. I do not understand how pines grow 200 feet tall in conditions dry enough to keep the lake empty. Drought equals empty lake and no growth. 200 feet of growth equals ample moisture and full lake. The existence of this pine indicates geologic activity as opposed to climate change. Good catch, Cookie.

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  • Phil VeerkampMay 17, 2013 - 8:35 am

    . . . one more possibility . . . ChrispyTahoe is actually JOHN KLEPPE on LSD.

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  • cookie65May 17, 2013 - 10:12 am

    Phil, there are petrified trees in Calistoga, they were laid over by a volcanic eruption @3 million years ago. They were covered in ash which is the source of their petrification. When a pine tree dies, it does so from the top down and will usually rot on the stump long before it ever falls over. It cannot petrify in an upright position, unless the material which leaches thru it is higher than the tree. Pine trees rot rather quickly once they are on the ground unless they are preserved and protected from the elements. Everything about this suggests geologic/volcanic activity and not drought. http://www.petrifiedforest.org/

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  • Phil VeerkampMay 17, 2013 - 10:27 am

    Cookie, the reported set of "facts" point to fiction. If the reporting in this article is solid then this may be an example of manufactured science supporting another agenda. In either case when another 200 year drought comes to California we are screwed. But I WILL take a road trip to Fallen Leaf Lake to marvel at the erect petrified trees. I'll bring several canteens.

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  • cookie65May 17, 2013 - 2:14 pm

    Another flyby Phil, this one is pretty large and would knock over a few trees. http://www.latimes.com/news/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-asteroid-1998-qe2-20130516,0,548201.story

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  • Phil VeerkampMay 17, 2013 - 6:08 pm

    Cookie - LINK - Bright Explosion on the Moon

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  • rodMay 17, 2013 - 8:22 pm

    Cookie and Phil, Dr Kleppe mentioned 'funny science' and you scientists are trying to be funny? This IS FANTASTIC news. Bona fide evidense that climate change was much worse than recent ice cores (800k yrs) have indicated. These trees show eons of drought (climate change) long before man was burning fossile fuel. I fail to see any agenda here.

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  • J. OthersideMay 18, 2013 - 8:19 pm

    Yeaaah.....a drought does not necessarily mean no water, just not enough to fill the lake completely or at all at times over a few hundred years. The lake is a deep hole, collecting whatever water was available creating conditions for vegetative growth. Perhaps the only pocket of growth for miles around. Followed by a wet period to submerge the trees and preserve by lack of oxygenated water. Not a great inconsistency or agenda, as Rod indicated.

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  • cookie65May 19, 2013 - 7:10 am

    If it is true that this tree petrified in 800 years that would change a lot of scientific understanding. Also, for this tree to become mineralized would require a very high mineral content (hard water). I am not questioning any agenda, I am questioning what seem to be inconsistencies in the explanation of the origin of this tree. Just because someone comes up with a claim or explanation does not make it true. If there was a "mega drought" here 800 years ago it is going to take more than one mineralized tree in Fallen Leaf Lake to make the case. If some kind of mega drought conditions caused this tree to die it also caused a lot of other things to happen that would be recorded in the geology.

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  • Phil VeerkampMay 19, 2013 - 8:11 am

    Cookie, can you find any documentation pointing to a major change in water chemistry change from mineralized (ca, mg etc)? The Sierra are granitic, low solubility. What would be the source of mineralized water. If those conditions existed then why is Tahoe BLUE? . . . good reference - LINK - recessional moraines . . . You can see these moraines today at Fallen Leaf Lake, Angora Lake . . . formed by the large Tahoe glacial episode, 70,000 to 150,000 years ago, and the younger but smaller Tioga episode, 19,000 to 26,000 years ago.

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  • cookie65May 19, 2013 - 8:56 am

    Phil, Fallen Leaf is potable water without any filtration or purification needed. As the story itself claims, the lake has high clarity which is evidence of low mineral content, just like Tahoe. One of the redistribution of wealth scams algore orchestrated for his envornMENTAL wacko friends was a big pile of taxpayer money to study granite erosion in the Tahoe basin to preserve Tahoe's clarity. Science needs funding, it keeps them in Volvo payments and college tuition money for their kids. Funding comes from proposing an event that we all want to avoid. Suggesting that there may be a mega drought at some point in the future is like suggesting that there will be a forest fire at some point in the future. Not exactly science. I don't buy it that this tree is from mid-evil times. This tree could have been carried by a glacier and deposited there.

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  • Ken SteersMay 19, 2013 - 9:35 am

    To think where we as a world would be today if we were educated regarding the dangers of global warming 800 years ago. Those poor trees might still be alive. Phil, want to join me in my new business of logging those trees out of that lake? I wonder what permits Dr Kleppe obtained to harvest that yellow pine?

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  • Phil VeerkampMay 19, 2013 - 9:56 am

    Ken, imagine what we could get for a few logs! Do you ever watch "Swamp Loggers". They get oodles of bucks for submerged Cyprus logs. EIR cost? Permitting cost? You handle that. After you clear the red tape I'll join in. Call me.

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  • cookie65May 19, 2013 - 2:57 pm

    Phil, I stumbled across this piece from Americanthinker that is priceless. http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/05/m-capital_powerball_scandals_grease_washingtons_wheels.html

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  • J. OthersideMay 19, 2013 - 4:05 pm

    Ah, now I think I understand the confusion. "Mineralized" wood is not the same as "petrified" wood. The former is wood that has a high mineral content in the first few millimeters from the surface, and can take place within a few decades of submersion. The latter is completely replaced wood with minerals creating "stone wood", a process which can take many thousands of years and needs direct soil contact. In this article the wood is also described as completely waterlogged, obviously impossible if petrified.

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  • cookie65May 19, 2013 - 4:10 pm

    The tree is also described as a marble statue. Either way, I still believe their are any number of explanations. What was the source of mineralization?

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  • Ken SteersMay 19, 2013 - 4:14 pm

    Phil, I watch all the deadliest gold getting swamp logging ice truckers shows. I haven't seen one yet to make any money. I met the Hansen brothers, Northwestern, while in Kodiak a while back. They said that the show didn't pay them hardly anything. Then I was stuck in Dutch Harbor with Josh Harris the Cornelia Maria older son, during a huge storm last year. He's only 5-2 and is the tall brother. I watch all those different shows and ask myself the same question every time. Where is OCIA? I think a Ponderosa Pine that has been at the bottom of Tahoe for 1000 years would make a fine mantle over my fireplace. At the rapid rate this global warming is advancing I'll have to survive the next ice age before hoping a 300 year drought would dry up the lake low enough. The Earth is getting colder. http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterferrara/2012/05/31/sorry-global-warming-alarmists-the-earth-is-cooling/2/

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  • J. OthersideMay 19, 2013 - 4:36 pm

    Dissolved silicates are the primary mineral sources. Should I mention that the solubility changes with the water pH and open another can of worms? Nah. This is also why recovered "water logs" play hell with sawmills, the mineralized wood doesn't exactly sharpen the saw blades.

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  • cookie65May 19, 2013 - 5:58 pm

    J. Otherside, go back and re-read the story. "The tree, a yellow pine, dated back to around 1215 A.D. It had mineralized, and was as perfectly preserved as a marble statue. It was waterlogged, so it absorbs SONAR." The story the tree "had mineralized", not "was in the process of mineralization." Mineralization and petrification are interchangeable. I do not believe the carbon dating of the tree. Minerals can be waterlogged. Crystals and minerals grow because of water saturation. I believe the tree is much older than claimed.

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  • J. OthersideMay 19, 2013 - 6:28 pm

    Could very well be older, Cookie. I think it also likely that the scientific facts aren't being reported quite accurately, as the MD isn't exactly a scientific journal. I do know that mineralized wood specimens can be created fairly quickly, for whatever its worth.

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  • cookie65May 19, 2013 - 7:37 pm

    Oh yes, you can artificially create mineralized (petrified)wood in your backyard in a matter of months. It does require heavy amounts of salinization which is non-existent in Fallen Leaf. It is however existent in nearby hot springs. Those conditions exist throughout the sierra, Mono Lake and various other hot springs, but Fallen leaf is pure pristine fresh water. I just think the conclusion makes a lot of assumptions that are not supported by fact or the geologic record.

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  • Phil VeerkampMay 19, 2013 - 7:48 pm

    Cookie Otherside, recent seismic studys tend to rule out seismic explanations, but I toss one out for consideration anyway. Fall Leaf Lake exists due to a 150’ tall “dam” of glacial moraine, an very permeable mix of debris carried/ bulldozed ahead of and along with the glacier. When the glacier melted due to global warming prior to human assistance it left a very porus “dam” that probably perked as fast as the inlet rate. It probably took eons for the dam to seal. There is a fault running through the “dam” I speculate that a seismic disturbance could “unplug” the glacial moraine and cause a “droughtless” lowering . Otherside, I suspect that the Ph of post glacial Fallen Leaf Sierra runoff has been near 7 for eons. At what Ph does the feldspar decompose?

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  • cookie65May 19, 2013 - 7:49 pm

    There is glacial activity involved in the creation of Fallen Leaf Lake. Any time there are glaciers there is travel and deposits of objects and material that didn't necessarily originate in the place where they were found. Just because that tree is there now doesn't mean it grew there.

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  • Phil VeerkampMay 19, 2013 - 7:55 pm

    BTW – aren't fish saturated with H2O? Fish finders (sonar) “see” fish. Why can’t fish finders see submerged, partially mineralized trees?

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  • J. OthersideMay 19, 2013 - 8:25 pm

    Yeah, that seemed like an odd observation to me as well. Sonar relies on density differences of objects compared to water, like the air bladders of fish, to change the acoustic "signatures" of reflected sound waves. Seems like mineralized wood would have a pretty large density difference, water logged or not. I suspect they could not differentiate the objects from the lake bottom, not that there was nothing there. Again, not a very rigorous article.

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