The Niland Geyser
The only moving geyser in the world
Updated March 2021
By Kristine Bonner
Dubbed the “Slow One”, a mud pot five miles northwest of Niland, California is making history. The Niland Geyser, an odiferous, bubbly mud pool, first appeared in 1953 and was a typical, stationary mudpot until some time around 2007, when it began to move westward. Its progress was slow at first, but as of April 2018 it had grown increasingly mobile and had moved 280 feet from its original site, leaving an unstable wet swath of ground behind. The Slow One is now next to old Highway 111, the Kinder Morgan petroleum pipeline and underneath Verizon’s now elevated fiberoptic cables. It had already disrupted Union Pacific’s railroad tracks which have now been rebuilt.A new section of 111 was routed 100 feet to the west of the old road.
Mud pots are not unusual in thermal areas, places where heated water and gas bubble up through underground cracks and crevices, warmed from the Earth’s hot interior. The water and hydrogen sulfide gas combine to form sulphuric acid, which breaks down the rock into the stinky mud, while escaping carbon dioxide bubbles up. This mud pot is not particularly hot though, measuring about 80 degrees. In addition, it’s emitting much more water than most mud pots, about 40,000 gallons a day. Experts are now calling it a mud spring.
New Video Update Nov 2021
In June of 2018, Imperial County declared an emergency for the area. Efforts to contain, drain, or otherwise stop the migrating mud spring proved fruitless. Initially Union Pacific built a wall, digging 75 feet down to stop the mud spring, but it bubbled underneath and past the barrier. The rail line originally created a temporary alternate track, a Shoofly, to route around the muddy pool as it migrated past the tracks.
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