[REGIONAL NEWS] Salt shakers: Removing brine from river water causes earthquakes along Utah-Colorado line

The Dolores River, a major tributary of the Colorado River, picks up naturally occurring salts from the soil in Paradox Valley. Federal authorities have to remove some of the salt to remain in compliance with a 1973 agreement with Mexico on the quality of Colorado River water.
/Photo by Luke Runyon/KUNC

By Luke Runyon | KUNC

MONTROSE, Colo. – When her desk started moving at work the morning of March 4, Nara Bopp assumed it was a passing garbage truck.

She looked out the window. No garbage truck. No nearby construction, either. So she did the same thing she does whenever something weird happens in Moab: She logged onto the town’s unofficial Facebook page to see what was up.

“Pretty much everyone was saying: ‘Did you just feel that earthquake?’ or, ‘Did you just feel something shaking? Was that an earthquake? Does Moab even get earthquakes? This is crazy,’” Bopp said.

Moab doesn’t normally have earthquakes people can feel. This one – 4.5 on the Richter scale – didn’t cause any damage, but it was enough to get the attention of people all along the Utah-Colorado line. Many took to social media to post about the uncharacteristic shaking.

Earthquakes can feel like a freak of nature, something that strikes at random. But not this one. There’s no question where it came from and that human activity caused it.


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