A Gurgling Mud Pool Is Creeping Across Southern California Like a Geologic Poltergeist https://t.co/98J9BxN7X3
Even stranger, this puzzling geyser — dubbed the "Slow One" — is in the same neighborhood as the source of the so-called "Big One," the giant earthquake that is expected to shake things up where the North American and Pacific tectonic plates rub together to form the San Andreas Fault.
But despite the Slow One's unprecedented movement as of late, there's no evidence that this muddy geyser is an imminent precursor to an earthquake, geophysicist Ken Hudnut, with the U.S. Geological Survey, told the Los Angeles Times. In fact, the region has experienced less seismic activity in recent months than average, he said. [Gallery: Probing Geysers in Yellowstone and Chile]
Researchers have known about the Slow One, also called the Niland Geyser, since 1953. It formed when historic earthquakes caused deep cracks underground that allowed gases to move upward and escape at the surface, causing the bubbling mud pools, the Los Angeles Times reported. Unlike Yellowstone's Old Faithful, which has molten rock that superheats the circulating hot-spring water, the Niland Geyser is heated by bubbling carbon dioxide and registers at about 80 degrees Fahrenheit (nearly 27 degrees Celsius).
After not moving for decades, the geyser caught the attention of scientists when it began moving around over the past few years, David Lynch, a geophysicist, told the Los Angeles Times. Then, over the past six months, the geyser went on an erratic tour, first moving 60 feet (18 meters) over a few months and then a whopping 60 feet in one day, officials reported in Imperial County, where the muddy spring is located.