Another quake rattles Bluffdale overnight

Map Image: USGS

BLUFFDALE, Utah, March 5, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — The earth moved yet again in Bluffdale overnight after a 2.5 magnitude quake struck at 1:04 a.m. Tuesday.

The quake was centered about one mile south of Bluffdale near Rock Hollow Drive at a depth of 4.9 miles according to the University of Utah Seismograph Stations.

There were no reports of damage.

The temblor was one of a dozen or so quakes to have rattled the area in the last month, the most intense being a 3.7 magnitude quake felt across Utah and Salt Lake Counties in the early morning hours of Feb. 15.

The recent swarm of seismic activity has some people on edge and has prompted reminders from public safety officials for Utahns to have a quake plan in place in the event the long predicted Big One strikes the Wasatch Front.

Monday, folks in the Moab area along the Utah-Colorado border were jolted by a quake measuring 4.6 in magnitude. The earthquake struck some 35 miles north of Dove Creek, Colorado at 10:22 a.m., according to the University of Utah’s Seismograph Stations and was felt as far away as Blanding, Bear’s Ears and Price.

Quake experts say the area in southeastern Utah is no stranger to seismic activity, much of it the result of subterranean activity at the Reclamation’s Paradox Valley Salinity Control Facility near Bedrock, Colorado. The facility injects highly pressurized salt brine into a well nearly three miles deep in order to keep it from leaching into the water of Dolores Creek, as well as the Colorado River.

The facility posted a statement on its website Monday saying the well was not in operation at the time of the quake, but it would continue to investigate the well’s potential role in triggering Monday’s temblor.

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The facility’s statement is as follows:

GRAND JUNCTION, COLO. – The U.S. Geological Survey reported that an earthquake occurred at 10:22 a.m. MST, on Monday, March 4, 2019, near Reclamation’s Paradox Valley Salinity Control Facility near Bedrock, Colorado. Reclamation maintains a comprehensive network of seismic monitoring instruments in the area, which indicated a preliminary magnitude 4.1 for this earthquake. The quake was felt by employees at the Reclamation facility and residents in surrounding areas.

The Paradox Valley Salinity Control Facility injects highly pressurized, concentrated salt water (brine) into a 16,000-foot-deep well, preventing the brine from entering the Dolores River. The well was not operating at the time of the earthquake due to routine maintenance. Operations will not resume until Reclamation completes a thorough assessment of the situation.

High-pressure brine injection has been known to trigger small earthquakes in the past, and today’s event was within the range of previously induced earthquakes. Reclamation’s seismic network in the area monitors the location, magnitude and frequency around the Paradox Valley Salinity Control Facility. Reclamation will continue using that network to monitor earthquakes in the area.

The Paradox Valley Salinity Control Facility substantially benefits downstream water quality in the Colorado River Basin, and helps the United States meet treaty obligations with Mexico for allowable salinity levels in the river. Historically, the Dolores River picked up an estimated 205,000 tons of salt annually as it passed through the Paradox Valley. Since the mid-1990s much of this salt has been collected by the Paradox Valley Salinity Control Unit in shallow wells along the Dolores River and then injected into deep subsurface geologic formations. The deep well injection program removes about 95,000 tons of salt annually from the Dolores and Colorado rivers.

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