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A Geyser of Mud From San Andreas Fault is Creeping Across California and it’s Unstoppable

A Geyser of Mud From San Andreas Fault is Creeping Across California and it’s Unstoppable 86

A mud puddle doesn’t really sound all that threatening, but there’s one in California’s Imperial County that’s so troublesome, an emergency had to be declared earlier this year.

It’s called the Niland Geyser and it’s exactly that, a geyser of bubbling mud. But there’s a strange twist – this menacing puddle has been slowly creeping across the ground, to the point where it’s now threatening railroad tracks and a state highway.

The Niland Geyser first appeared in 1953, and sat around without incident for decades. Then, around 11 years ago, things shifted. The geyser started moving across dry ground at a glacial pace.

Now, things have gotten more serious – in the last six months, that pace has picked up considerably. In a few months, the Niland Geyser travelled 18.3 metres (60 feet).

Then, it travelled another 18 metres in a single day – bringing it worryingly close to Union Pacific’s railway tracks, State Route 111, a petroleum pipeline, and fibre optic telecommunications lines.

Overall, this bubbling puddle has moved roughly 73 metres (240 feet) from where it was a decade ago.

(Imperial County)

(Imperial County)

“It’s a slow-moving disaster,” Alfredo Estrada, Imperial County’s fire chief and emergency services coordinator, told the Los Angeles Times. Last month, the county announced it was proclaiming an emergency for the affect area.

There have been several attempts to stop the mud. The basin has been drained of water. Wells have been dug, to try and relieve pressure on the geyser. Loose stone was dumped in the mud spring.

As a somewhat desperate measure, the Union Pacific Railroad built a wall of steel and boulders 22.9 metres (75 feet) deep and 36.6 metres (120 feet) long between the mud spring and the railroad.

Nothing has stopped it, not even the wall. In October, the mud just seeped underneath it and kept sludging on towards the tracks.

The source of the mud, known as the mud spring or mud pot, is located at the southern end of the San Andreas Fault, the boundary between the North American and Pacific tectonic plates.

However, its important to note that the geyser’s presence and movement are not signs of seismic activity. A mud pot is associated with a tectonic boundary, but it’s actually a bit like a sinkhole (except full of, well, mud).

niland-geyser-railroad

(Imperial County)

The Niland Geyser is a geothermic feature where water is forced upward through the soil. It’s not a very hot spring, with a temperature of only around 27 degrees Celsius (80 Fahrenheit); instead it’s bubbling with carbon dioxide gas that is also seeping up from deep under the ground, released by prior earthquake activity.

It also reportedly has a bit of a stench, smelling faintly of rotten eggs – not uncommon for underwater spring activity, due to the hydrogen sulfide in the water.

As it moves along through a soft sedimentary rock called mudstone, it leaves a soggy trail in its wake, weakening the integrity of the ground to a depth of about 9-12 metres (30-40 feet), making it boggy and unsuitable to support structures.

So there’s no need to worry that the long-awaited “Big One” earthquake is about to hit. The Niland Geyser is plenty enough to worry about without borrowing impending doom.

The Union Pacific Railroad has already built an alternate track for its trains to travel along, which they do at a slower pace than they used to. If the mud continues to creep onward, a more permanent solution, such as a bridge, may need to be implemented.

And if it creeps too close to the road, California Department of Transportation Ed Joyce told KYMA, “Caltrans will have to close state route 111 if that mudpot advances to a point where it impacts the state road. We obviously have to divert traffic.”

MICHELLE STARR
sciencealert

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Planet Earth

Polar vortex: “wild” winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January

Polar vortex: "wild" winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January 95

In the upper atmosphere above the North Pole, experts saw a rapidly swirling vortex of cold air that could bring severe frosts to the United States, Northern Europe and East Asia. Serious cold snap and snowy weather are expected after January the 16th.

Snowfalls and a cold snap hit South Korea since the start of 2021, hitting historic snow maximums and temperatures. In the country, for the first time since 1964, television and newer communications are sending people cold snap warnings:

https://twitter.com/sonyeoljin/status/1346841272347082752?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

The situation is similar in Japan, where a new snow storm hit historic highs:

On January 7, the thermometer In Beijing dropped to -20 degrees Celsius, breaking the 1966 record. In other regions of China, the temperature is also not sugar, and you can only move around in special uniforms:

The cold even reached Taiwan, where the temperature in some areas dropped below freezing point, snow poured down and people realized that rice terraces can be used as a ski jump:

Even more snow went to Spain, where on January 6, 2021, a temperature of -34.1 ° C was recorded – the lowest on record. After that, a snow storm hit the country, which has not been seen for 80 years:

https://youtu.be/pHU533Krs5M

The same thing happens in Canada and in the northern states of the United States:

It seems that after a stratospheric warming, the subpolar vortex began to split:

The vortex itself is a standard phenomenon. However, this time experts were surprised at his movement. It is possible that in the near future it will be divided into two parts. 

Scientists associate the strange behavior with the changed climate in the Arctic, which has become warmer. From September to December, the amount of ice cover decreased significantly.

The polar vortex is a low-pressure region located in the stratosphere and filled with cold air. When the jet stream of air that holds the vortex weakens, the low pressure area moves south. 

As the ice shrinks, more moisture will move inland. It will turn to snow, so snowfalls are expected. Snow, in turn, reflects heat, leading to a cold snap.

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Planet Earth

Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared

Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared 96

Eyewitnesses said they heard a loud crash at dawn when a huge hole in the ground formed outside the Ponticelli Ospedale del Mare hospital in eastern Naples.

Early in the morning of January 8, 2021, a sinkhole occurred in the parking lot of a clinic in Naples. The depth of the formed cavity is about 20 meters, the total area of ​​the hole is about 2,000 square meters.

No casualties were found at the scene; firefighters say the sinkhole “affected an area of ​​about 500 square meters” and engulfed several cars parked near the hospital.

As the press writes and as a little can be seen from the videos, rescuers and firefighters were running around the pit together with the governor of the area.  But who should be there in the forefront are Italian geologists, since Naples stands in the very center of the volcanic system known as the Phlegrean Fields.

If the surface collapsed, moreover – the surface reinforced with concrete and reinforced from below with some kind of communications, then we are talking about serious soil deformations caused by the activity of magma.

Italy has been in doubt since the summer of 2020, because swarms were observed there in very atypical places in May, and according to the forecasts of old Italian seismologists, who had witnessed many strong earthquakes, it should have boomed in the August region.

Fortunately, nothing bad happened to Italy and there was no big earthquake. But, since there are swarms, it means that something is being prepared, the magma is gathering strength. 

Following this particular sinkhole event – an obvious sign that a major earthquake in Italy is already very close.

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Planet Earth

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China 97

In the first months of 2020, the whole world with a certain fright followed the events unfolding in China, where people fell on the streets during the day and astronauts wandered, and in the evening crematoria began to smoke. And now, with the onset of December, the cycle seems to be repeating itself.

Shunyi area in Beijing, where the authorities announced “wartime status” the day before. As you can see in the videos, thousands of people are lined up in the queue for mandatory testing:

Dalian city, where “wartime” is also declared. Neighborhoods are blockaded, people are walled up in entrances, familiar characters of George Lucas roam the streets:

https://twitter.com/UndergroundSilk/status/1341741036297723905?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Chinese ‘rescuers’, before performing a combat mission:

Chengdu City:

Daluo Port, Yunnan – tourists came for adventure and they received the ‘time of their life’ after leaving the ramp:

If something happens in Beijing, it does not mean that tomorrow the same will happen everywhere. However, the trend towards such dynamics is observed and, as the practice of the first wave of the pandemic has shown, all countries and people, to one degree or another, have taken into account the ‘Chinese experience’. 

Therefore, one must think that everything will now be in peace, as in spring – a new global round of the fight against the Covid has begun in China, a new great pandemic cycle!

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