Monday, October 14, 2013

Local Southern California Volcano, Salton Buttes, Is Having a New Quake Swarm

Over the past week, and even the past day and hour, there has been renewed shaking at the Salton Buttes volcano. This current swarm of moderate 3.0 mag and micro-quakes (under 3.0 mag) is very numerous and over the past hour rather intense. The area where there is a vent, is closed to the public, and has been for a few moths or so. I have seen many quake swarms at this volcano since the nearby 7.2 mag Easter Earthquake, in 2010.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Hello every one!

For a while, I haven't blogged on this site due to a heavy workload. It's been a very busy 2013! It seems that one of our local volcanos has been busy too. I have been seeing many quake swarms at Salton Buttes volcano, in Imperial County, CA, this year.

Today, Salton Buttes has had quite a swarm of micro quakes. This is after a tremendous amount of rain dowsed the area this weekend, with extreme down pours in the area of the volcano. Rain can seep into fissures and cracks, and create steam disturbances, and even a steam event. Another possibility is that magma or steam is on the move inside the volcano's inner plumbing.

One thing to note, an actual fumerole, the area called the mud volcanos, has been closed off to the public. Imperial County only wants to allow filmmakers at the site, with permission. That's pretty sad.

The image below shows an area of blue and red dots. They create a line at the bottom of the large lake. That's the swarm.

If you view this link within a week of this post, you can see the micro quakes in real time. Here is the USGS site:

Monday, April 29, 2013

Small Swarm of Light Earthquakes at Salton Buttes Volcano in Southern California

Look for the cluster of blue dots at the end of the big lake on the left margin of this map. Those are today's earthquakes at Salton Butte volcano.

Today there has been about 45 small earthquakes at the Salton Buttes volcano, in Southern California. This is a normal thing for this particular volcano, for it is still an active volcano as listed by the USGS. There is magma right below it, with a pipe being at about a mile down, and a magma body 4 to 6 miles down, and about 20 miles long. Most of the volcano is buried under thousands of feet of silt, sand, mud and mudstone. A live fumerole exists in what is called the Mud Pots, the Mud Volcanos or humorously the Mudd Trolls.

I visit this volcano all the time, and even photographed and filmed country singer Brian Shotwell here.  The earthquake map is by the USGS, and photos by me.

Monday, April 22, 2013

An Excerpt from James Needham, and Early Geologic Explorer to my Area

This image I took with an old Minolta 35 mm film camera, with T-Max film. 
I developed the film myself. This is Morongo Valley.

An Early Last Century Exploration of my Local Desert

An Excerpt from a book written near the turn of the last century, almost 100 years ago, Adventures in Scenery by James Needham. I believe it is out of print, but it can be found at University archives.

This is a geologists account of early California. It mentions the proterozoic Gneiss that surrounds my house in Morongo Valley. The typos are from whoever archived or published this old text. Enjoy!

"To the west of Palm Springs is San Gorgonio Pass, discovered 
in 1853, and hailed as the long looked for pass through the 
mountains by which a railroad from the east might reach the 
Pacific Coast. To the north is San Gorgonio Peak, at the east- 
ern end of the San Bernardino range, and to the south is the 
majestic Mount San Jacinto. The "pass" is a mountain valley 
formed by faulting of the rocks of the earth's crust. This break 
in the crust of the earth is the great San Andreas rift, which 
extends south and east of San Gorgonio Pass and north and west 
to and beyond San Francisco. Movement along this rift farther 
northwest, particularly near San Francisco, caused the earth- 
quake of April 18, 1906. Many faults or breaks in the crust 
of the earth occur in this region. The Morongo Valley, which 
separates the San Bernardino mountain range from the Little 
San Bernardino range, is a "mountain valley" formed by fault- 
ing. The fault of this latter valley is crosswise of the original 
drainage of Little, Big, and Dry Morongo creeks, which enter 
the valley from the San Bernadino mountains from the north- 
west. The waters of these creeks sink into the alluvium of the 
valley and the streams disappear, re-appearing again at the lower 
side of the valley and then flow over the rock-bottomed gorges to 
the Colorado Desert. The walls of Morongo Canyon are about 
300 feet high and are nearly vertical. The rock walls are com- 
posed of granitic gneiss beautifully laminated and very much 
distorted, twisted, and folded. The broad plain between "White- 
water River and Morongo Canyon is known as Conchilla Desert. 
It is thickly covered with many varieties of cactus, especially 
the large picturesque barrel cactus, and for this reason it has 
been labeled the Devil's Garden! Probably more cactuses, or 
more species of cactus, are observable here than anywhere else 
on the Colorado Desert. A Joshua Tree National Monument 
has been established in the Morongo Valley. It is worthy of 
note that a movement is on foot to establish a Joshua Tree park" 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Published Geologist on Landers, Pioneer Town Local Basalt Volcanism

Image: Pipes Canyon Intrusion (lava making the surface) of Basalt near Landers. Image by C Liechtenstein.

The Mojave Young Volcano System, and the hot magma below, is live and well in my opinion. Of course, we still do not know for sure. But is the local young volcanos within the ECSZ linked to the extension of the Great Basin region, which includes much of the Mojave Desert? Is this a rifting zone? Indeed it's a region of land pulling apart, as far as geologists usually agree. 

Here's a cool and fetching note from a paper written by a geologist about the area I live in, and about a young volcano I live close to. This from the paper: "searching for the pliocene: field trip guide to the southern exposures":

:86.9 (1.6) Continue past New Dixie Mine Road. Ruby Mountain to the right (west) may be one of the vents for local basalt flows. It is an alkaline basalt (basanite) intrusion and flow complex of late Miocene age (6-10 Ma) (Neville, 1986). The local termination of alkaline basalt volcanism near the San Bernardino Mountains appears to coincide with estimates of the beginning of transpres- sional tectonics for the region (Sadler and Reeder, 1983). Basalt from this source can be recognized by entrained megacrysts formed in the mantle of the chrome- diopside group, including kaersutite (Wilshire and Shervais, 1975)."

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Felt Series of Three Strong Earthquakes Yesterday

Because I am very busy at work, I had to delay posting about three earthquakes I felt yesterday. I have about an hour of rare free time, and will share my interesting experience.

Yesterday morning, just before 10 am PST, in Palm Springs, a conversation I was having was interrupted by what at first seemed like an explosion. In fact later on, as I spoke with other people, most others reported hearing a bang or an explosion!

After the bang, the windows rattled and bowed just like they would from an explosion, and I went outside only to see a puddle of water vibrate. Then I was aware of the ground shaking a bit.

This event seemed to last about ten seconds, and it clearly felt like a 5 mag event. I looked on the USGS site, which took a while to report the event. Once it was up, the quakes were first reported at being 4.7 to 5.1. Three strong earthquakes were reported, along with a dozens of fore and aftershocks.

Recently I have learned that often the USGS lowers the magnitude of strong and high moderate earthquakes for insurance reasons. We live in a nation and a time where business and science mixes, and objectivity comes in second to money.

We need to go back to telling the truth with science. This event was clearly 5 mag and not 4.7.