Just east of Palm Springs and Coachella Valley are some crazy things. You’ve got Salvation Mountain, Slab City, and an entire museum dedicated just to bananas. But, it’s the stinky, gurgling, moving pool of mud that scientists have their eye on as it is moving toward Highway 111, Verizon fiber optic lines, and the railroad tracks – which, obviously, could create some major issues for the Imperial Valley.
The “Niland Geyser,” as it’s called, can be found near, you guessed it, Niland, in Imperial County. They mud pot began to move about 20 feet per year year back in 2015 and 2016, carving a 24,000 square foot basin in the ground.
Scientists aren’t sure why the Niland Geyser is moving across the desert – though they are certain it has nothing to do with seismic activity, according to Smithsonian. As the San Andreas Fault is heavily monitored, there are no signs that a large earthquake is on the way.
And while they’re not sure why it’s moving, officials do know why it smells so bad. Hydrogen sulfide, which creates that rotten egg-like stench that Salton Sea is so well known for, is released by the Niland Geyser.
There have been attempts to stop the mud pot from moving, but, so far, nothing has worked – including building a wall (insert MAGA joke) that didn’t work as the mud simply oozed under it.
As the Los Angeles Times points out (in a piece that is really worth your time reading), this would be necessary as the thing is moving right towards the Union Pacific freight railroad tracks, a petroleum pipeline, Verizon fiber optic telecommunications lines, and a portion of Highway 111.
“It’s a slow-moving disaster,” Alfredo Estrada, fire chief and emergency services coordinator of Imperial County, told the Times.
Officials are preparing for the mud pot’s arrival by making detour plans for Highway 111 and Union Pacific may consider building a bridge to circumvent moving mud pot.