Salton Sea Spews Hydrogen Sulfide Into the Coachella Valley, Prompting Odor Advisory


Some Coachella Valley residents may have smelled the stench of rotting eggs in the air Saturday…

Due to elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide wafting from the Salton Sea.

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Aerial view of the Salton Sea from the north-northeast from over Joshua Tree National Park. Picture via Wikipedia

The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued an odor advisory through Sunday evening after detecting hydrogen sulfide concentrations at 67 parts per billion Saturday morning immediately downwind from the Salton Sea, in an area with little population.

Those numbers exceeded the state standard of 30 parts per billion.

Winds from the southeast are expected during daylight hours on Sunday, possibly leading to elevated concentrations at both the Near-Shore and Mecca Community sites, with peak concentrations occurring in the morning,” the SCAQMD said in a news release.

Natural processes?

Hydrogen sulfide is associated with the natural processes occurring in the Salton Sea, a non-draining body of water with no ability to cleanse itself. Trapped in its waters are salt and selenium-laden agricultural runoff from surrounding farms, as well as heavy metals and bacterial pollution that flow in from Mexico’s New River, authorities said.

And its beaches are covered with dead fish bones… no sand:

The Salton Sea was created in 1905 when the Colorado River broke through a silt-laden canal and roared unimpeded for two years into a basin near Brawley known as the Salton Sink. It eventually grew into a 360-square-mile lake that straddles Riverside and Imperial counties.

But the lake has shrunk over the years and recently has become an environmental hazard prone to choking dust storms.

Or volcanic unrest?

There are many geothermal features near the southeastern shore of the Salton Sea in Imperial County, California. These include mud volcanoes, mud pots, and fumarolic vents that release carbon dioxide and in some places ammonia and hydrogen sulfide.

The elevated temperatures that give rise to these features are due to a shallow magma body that underlies the Salton Buttes, five rhyolitic volcanic necks dating to around 16,000 years ago.

So is this hydrogen sulfide link to biological processes in the sea or the awakening volcano under the Salton Buttes? In any cases, the levels detected Saturday can cause headaches and nausea, but there are no long-term health risks associated with those symptoms. More geology news on Strange Sounds and Steve Quayle. [My News LA]

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