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Salton Sea geothermal plants causing the San Andreas fault to tremor

by AirTalk

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Geothermal Production in the Imperial Valley has increased activities around the San Andreas Fault Flickr/Ben+Sam

There are over 10 geothermal energy plants around the Salton Sea and the vast amount of electricity they generate is making the Imperial Valley a renewable energy hub in the state. Turns out, though, power might not be the only thing these plants are producing. A paper published in the online journal Science found that geothermal production in the Imperial Valley inadvertently increased seismic activities around the San Andreas fault. The Los Angeles Times reports that between 1981 and 2012, some 10,000 earthquakes over a 1.75 magnitude were registered in the area.

Could these smaller earthquakes trigger larger ones that could really rock Southern California? As we learn more about the tradeoffs involved with the use of alternative energy sources, should we rethink our adoption and reliance?


Emily Brodsky, Professor of Earth & Planetary Sciences at UC Santa Cruz and the lead author of the paper

Timothy Kelley, President and CEO of the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation

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