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Sierra Nevada mountain range is getting bigger rapidly

In a new study, researchers from the University of Nevada, Reno, found that the entire Sierra Nevada range is being elevated at one to two millimeters every year.

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Sierra Nevada mountains on the rise, says research. Above is Lake Tahoe from the Tahoe Rim Trail. (Wikimedia/Wikimedia commons)

The Sierra Nevada mountain range is growing at a rapid pace, says new research.

The team of researchers from the University of Nevada's geodetic laboratory in Reno and the University of Glasgow in the UK, found the mountains growing at about half an inch every 10 years.

This is about one to two millimeters per year along the entire range, reported MSNBC.

"Our data indicate that uplift is ... active and could have generated the entire range in less than 3 million years, which is young compared to estimates based on some other techniques," said lead researcher Bill Hammond,of the University of Nevada, according to the Associated Press.

"It basically means that the latest pulse of uplift is still ongoing."

Using GPS data and space-based radar, the researchers were able to get pinpoint accuracy.

 "The exciting thing is we can watch the range growing in real time," said Hammond, according to Red Orbit.

"Using data back to before 2000 we can see it with accuracy better than one millimeter per year. Perhaps even more amazing is that these minuscule changes are measured using satellites in space."

The study suggests that the mountains likely formed less than three million years ago making them comparatively young.

The Alps in Europe by contrast, were thought to begin growing about 65 million years ago.

According to UPI, scientists believe the range may have a complex history with some parts much older than others.

The Sierra Nevada is unique as it was likely created by an uplift after a fragment of a lower plate peeled off the top layer of the earth called the "lithosphere."

By contrast, the Alps and the Andes were caused by the collision of two tectonic plates.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/120507/sierra-nevada-mountains-are-getting-bigger