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2018 - Trip Report - San Andreas Fault Line, Moving Geyser

San Andreas Fault Line -  Moving Geyser

December 12-13, 2018 Trip

by Jerry Dupree

The San Andreas fault is very active and is constantly moving at about 1 1/2” to 2 1/2” inches per year. We live about 6 miles from the San Andreas and about 10 miles from the San Jacinto fault. The San Andreas fault divides at about Thousand Palms Nature Preserve into the Mission Creek fault which runs through Desert Hot Springs and the San Andreas fault which continues northwesterly until it goes under the ocean north of San Francisco. 

I read an article online about a geyser near Niland by the Salton Sea that is moving at an alarming rate. It has moved 150 feet since April and the Southern Pacific Railroad has built a new track ahead of it and dug down 70 feet to install a steel dam to try stopping it. It didn’t work and the geyser continues to work itself toward the Salton Sea which is about 1/4 mile away. The geyser is also threatening State Highway 111. The area is full of springs and forms swamps and mud bogs. It is the water source for the waterfowl reserve across the highway and is a vital location of the Pacific flyway for several species of migratory water fowl feeding and nesting.

(Click Read More to read the rest of the story and photos)

I drove down to Niland a few days ago and wanted to take some pictures to share with our group and especially the members who will be attending the upcoming trip. The railroad workmen wouldn’t allow me to get close enough to get pictures. There is a crater full of water that originates from the fault. Not too far south there is a geothermal steam power plant that generates electricity. There are more geothermal power plants in California. We saw several geothermal power plants while touring New Zealand.

I drove around the area along and below the Coachella Canal, which irrigates the Coachella Valley from Colorado River water and saw several springs flowing from the fault. There is a large expanse of mud that I drove too far out on and decided to turn back before I might have become stuck in it. I saw some illegal aliens trying to cross it and I am sure they were wishing they had gone around it.

There are “mud volcanoes"  in the area which is carbon dioxide rising through the mud which is dissolved rock from far below the surface caused by sulfuric acid in the soil. They make large bubbles which are constantly rising to the surface and popping like a pot of goo. There is a lot going on deep under the ground, similar to what happened in Anchorage, Alaska. 

The surface of the earth consists of tectonic plates floating on molten magma, each plate moving and rubbing against the others. The area around the Salton Sea is a much thinner part of the Pacific plate where it meets the North American plate.

I am glad I made the trip down to the seismically active area to see what is going on under our feet and could easily cause a major earthquake

Look up Niland Geyser online. There are several articles and photographs.