Sunday, February 26, 2012

More Shallow Quake Swarming At Salton Sea (Salton Buttes)

The tectonic activity continues at the Salton Sea (Salton Buttes) fault area in California, as many tremors at very shallow depths (some have an odd depth recorded of 0.00 km) in the same region as the previous swarm, directly on the 'corner' of a transform fault line. Activity in the area has been elevated since a 7.2 mag quake struck the Mexico/Southern California region in August of 2010. This area of activity is on the same fault line.

These quakes are most likely tectonic in nature and not related to magma intrusion, however the area is a geothermal development area, and does have several small rhyolitic lava domes which are exposed on the South shores of the Salton Sea. The area has mud volcanoes, and at least one geothermal power plant. The newly minted CalVO (California Volcano Observatory) classifies the Salton Buttes area as a high risk for future eruption, so they seem to think the area will most certainly see volcanic activity one day.

Given the seismicity in the surrounding area, from San Diego county up to Los Angeles County, it is clear that the faults in the area were shaken up by the 7.2 Easter quake. This can be a good thing, or a bad thing. The more energy slowly released by some fault lines can diffuse crustal tension and prevent larger earthquakes from occurring... but they can also create tension at other faults that are not in motion, such as the Los Angeles area of the San Andreas Fault, which has shown very little activity since the large quake south of the border.

It is good advice to keep an eye on this quake swarm. The USGS has so far not released any statements on what the cause of the quakes are, from minor tectonic activity to possible dike intrusion, so I'll keep most of the speculation to a minimum. If USGS has any info on this current swarm, I will update this post.

*****UPDATE 2/23/2012*****

CalVO does not monitor the Salton Sea as of yet, so there will probably not be any incoming USGS analysis to these events.

A 3.0 magnitude tremblor struck the swarm region on the 20th of February, as well as a continuing swarm of smaller quakes at very shallow depths of less than 1 KM. Something is going on over there, I might actually take a trip to the lake and quake area to see if there is any indication of gas release or plant kill. Gas is close to $4 a gallon, and in some areas is much higher (almost $4.50/gal) so I'll need to see if I can afford such a trip. This area is getting more interesting by the day.

*****UPDATE 2/26/2012*****

A magnitude 3.2 quake struck the same region today,a s well as several smaller tremblors. These also took place at depths of less than 2km, with the shallowest quake at a depth of .10km. Gas prices are horrendous right now so I will need to wait until this weekend to make a trip out there to see what's going on with my own eyes. Hopefully nothing out of the ordinary and just the normal "California shuffle".

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