South California is being invaded by a goopy, bubbling mess of mud that stinks of rotten eggs. The Niland Geyser (or “Slow One”) is on the move and it emanates from near the southern side of the same source as the hypothetical “Big One”, the San Andreas Fault.
The good news is that there is absolutely nothing to suggest that it is a precursor to an earthquake – indeed, the area has seen less seismic activity than usual over the past few months, Science Advisor for Risk Reduction for the US Geological Survey (USGS), Ken Hudnut, told the Los Angeles Times.
But it has ramped up speed more recently and it is getting disconcertingly close to a line of fiber optic cables, a petroleum pipeline, a section on Highway 111, and a freight railroad track heading to Yuma, Arizona.
The geyser itself is not new – it has existed since 1953 and it has been moving for the last 11 years. However, what could have been described as a slow and steady crawl has accelerated in 2018. First, it drifted 60 feet (18 meters) in a matter of months. Then, Imperial Country officials say, it moved 60 feet in a single day. Now, it takes up a space that is roughly 2,230 square meters (24,000 square feet) large, 5 meters (18 feet) deep, and 23 meters (75 feet) wide.
“It’s a slow-moving disaster,” Imperial County’s fire chief and emergency services coordinator, Alfredo Estrada, told the Los Angeles Times.
There is added pressure because previous attempts to slow it down or divert it out of harm’s way haven’t come through, from draining and redirecting some of its water to building a 30-meter-long (100-foot), 23-meter (75-foot) deep underground wall with boulders and steel. As for the latter, the muddy spring slipped under the wall and continued on, The Weather Channel reports.