Lake Elsman

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Lake Elsman
Location Santa Clara County, California[1]
Coordinates 37°7′48″N 121°55′51″W / 37.13000°N 121.93083°W / 37.13000; -121.93083Coordinates: 37°7′48″N 121°55′51″W / 37.13000°N 121.93083°W / 37.13000; -121.93083
Type Earth[1]
Primary outflows Los Gatos Creek[1]
Catchment area 9.8 square miles (25 km2)[1]
Basin countries United States
Managing agency San Jose Water Agency[1]
Built 1950 (1950)[1]
Surface area 96 acres (39 ha)[1]
Surface elevation 1,119 feet (341 m)[2][3]

Lake Elsman is a 6,200-acre-foot (7,600,000 m3)[1] reservoir, created by an earthen dam called Austrian Dam[4] on Los Gatos Creek in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California.[5] At several points it is over 140' deep[6] and its normal surface area is 96 acres.[5] It provides 12% of San Jose Water Works’ total water capacity in some years.[6] The lake and dam is owned by the San Jose Water Company,[6]

In 1988 and 1989, two earthquakes at M=5.3 and 5.4 respectively occurred at Lake Elsman that transferred stress that led to the 1989 M=6.9 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.[7]

Austrian Dam[edit]

Construction of the Austrian Dam was completed in 1950.[5] Beneath the reservoir are the remains of the settlements of Austrian Gulch and Germantown.[8] The dam is more than 900 feet (270 m) long and 180 feet (55 m) high.[6] The dam was damaged in the Loma Prieta quake.[9] The performance of Austrian Dam during that earthquake reinforces concerns about damage to the tops of earth dams by earthquakes.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Dams Within the Jurisdiction of the State of California (A-G)" (PDF). California Department of Water Resources. Retrieved September 28, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Lake Elsman". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 
  3. ^ "Lake Elsman - Santa Clara County, CA". Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  4. ^ "Austrian Dam". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 
  5. ^ a b c "Lake Elsman". Find Lakes. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d Wiley, Neil. "Lake Elsman". Mountain Network News. Mountain Network News. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  7. ^ Perfettini, Hugo; Stein, Ross S.; Simpson, Robert; Cocco, Massimo (September 10, 1999). "Stress transfer by the 1988-1989 M=5.3 and 5.4 Lake Elsman foreshocks to the Loma Prieta fault' Unclamping at the site of peak mainshock slip" (PDF). Journal of Geophysical Research 104 (B9): 20,169–20,182. doi:10.1029/1999jb900092. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  8. ^ John V. Young (2002). Ghost Towns of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Great West Books. ISBN 9780944220122. Retrieved 2013-05-14. 
  9. ^ a b Riverside County Integrated Project (PDF). Riverside County Integrated Project. 2000. pp. Appendix H, 3–41.