Chapter #205: Arches National Park Threatened - November 17, 2011

Arches National Park sign, Symbol of Moab, Utah - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)

Will the Salt Valley Drill Rig Topple Landscape Arch - A Symbol of Moab, Utah?


In July 1965, my father and I visited the old Arches National Monument. Dutifully, we drove the newly paved road, which ended in a circle at the Devil’s Garden. My DeLorme Utah Atlas & Gazetteer says of the place, “Area containing most of the park’s rock formations. Landscape Arch, at over 300 feet, one of the world’s longest known natural spans…” Although there are plenty of other rock formations in the park, including the grand Courthouse area, the Devil’s Garden does have a high concentration of the rock fins and arches that visitors like to see.

1965 Ektachrome image of Landscape Arch, Arches National Park, Moab, Utah - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Saving his valuable Ektachrome film for the important vistas, that day my father splurged and took three shots of Landscape Arch. With an reflex camera, judging the light was always an issue. After development, only one of three slides “came out”. Since it predates massive rock falls in 1991 and 1995, that 35-MM slide is now an historical artifact. Viewing the first image of the arch on this page, you will see the famed arch in 1965. In the second image, you will see evidence of water seepage on the fresh rock face. This may be an indication that the freeze-thaw cycle had loosened a layer of stone, which fell from the right-underside of the arch.

Forty-three years later, in May 2008, I made my second pilgrimage to Landscape Arch. Ironically, the afternoon light that day again made it difficult to get a good picture of the arch. The western sky was so bright, that that it overwhelmed the contrast ratios available to my Sony digital camera. Of my many Landscape Arch photos that day, only one “came out”.

Digital image of Landscape Arch, showing unweathered stone on lower-right, which was the result of a 1991 rock fall - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Until the 1991 rock fall, access for hikers below the arch was unfettered. During the rock fall itself, an amateur videographer caught scenes of picnickers scrambling to avoid burial under tons of rock. Since that time, we have learned that sound waves generated by normal human activity may contribute to spontaneous destruction of both natural arches and ancient Indian structures. Anywhere that there is a stone amphitheater large enough to concentrate sound waves, there is potential for destruction. According to the Old Testament, during the Israelites’ conquest of Canaan, the trumpeters in Joshua’s army alone brought down the walls of Jericho.

In the waning days of 2008, the George W. Bush administrations announced the largest ever auction of oil and gas leases on federal government land. Around Moab, Utah, many people were incensed. Through a series of gaffs and blunders, the land above the Spanish Valley Aquifer was included in the proposed sale. Residents just outside the city limits discovered that the federal government owned their mineral rights and was about to sell them to the highest bidder.

New, industrial-sized drill rig near Salt Valley and Arches National Park, Moab, Utah - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis)For several years, the G.W. Bush Administration had granted near-unrestricted drilling rights throughout the West. However, their inclusion of BLM land within view of Arches National Park was the Coup de Grace. Doing so put every remaining arch at Devil’s Garden in jeopardy. Disturbed by the administration’s cavalier proposal, I created a YouTube video titled, “Drilling Rigs Could Topple Landscape Arch”.

Soon after the November 2008 elections, President Obama appointed Ken Salazar, formerly a Senator from Colorado to be his Secretary of Interior. Initially, environmentalists were skeptical of Salazar. Almost immediately, he blocked the most egregious of the Bush oil and gas leases, including any within sight of Arches National Park.  “Case closed”, I thought. The arches at Arches were safe.

Rock fins on the Devil's Garden Trail, Arches National Park, Moab, Utah - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)In October 2011, I again visited Arches National Park, accessing the Devil’s Garden area via the dirt and gravel of the Salt Valley Road. From U.S. Highway 191, north of Canyonlands Field, I exited on to the unmarked “Valley City Road”. Although there is no "Valley City", I soon saw an industrial drilling rig big enough to qualify. Although the drilling location is not within view of Arches National Park, it is clearly visible from U.S. 191. According to my map, the new drilling operation is less than twelve miles from Landscape Arch. Upon seeing the rig, its size and scale reminded me of huge exploration rigs used on the North Slope in Alaska. Standing alone near the entrance to the Salt Valley, the rig dominated the view of the Book Cliffs to the north. Immediately, I felt the implied threat to Landscape Arch.

Upon returning home from Moab, I was amazed to read about a swarm of earthquakes in Oklahoma. After the devastating Long Beach Earthquake of 1933, California outlawed unreinforced masonry buildings. During the intervening years, Oklahoma was so geologically stable that new brick buildings were common. In November 2011, with twenty-three earthquakes occurring over a two-day period, it looked like more than a swarm. After thirty years without any significant seismic activity, why was Oklahoma fracturing like a dry biscuit? It may be instructive to remember that in 1933, the Signal Hill oilfield, near Long Beach was at the height of an oil boom.

Jeeps approach the top of the Klondike Trail, at Klondike Bluffs, near Salt Valley in Arches National Park, Moab, Utah - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)As of this writing, there is no definitive answer to the earthquake issue in Oklahoma. Anecdotal evidence points at increased exploration and production of oil and gas throughout the state. Oil and gas companies immediately issued denials that their activity could or had caused the series of seismic events. It would be nice if there was scientific evidence to corroborate their claims, but such evidence is lacking. In the search for new deposits of oil and gas, the extractors have perfected the art of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), or so they say. A recent documentary showed fracking-caused water well contamination in Pennsylvania. In some places, it was so bad that that affected residents could ignite the gas emanating from their water taps.

While I was living in Denver in the late 1980s, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal used water-injection to dispose of plutonium-contaminated fluids. After a few years, earthquakes in and around the nearby city of Broomfield showed a marked increase. Whether it was spontaneous nuclear fission or simple lubrication of the underlying rock structures, no one knows. Suffice to say that when large-scale water injection at that site ended, so too did the earthquakes. Since hydraulic fracturing includes both injection and extraction of various fluids, it is audacious for extractors to deny any responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

Skyline Arch doubled in size in a 1940 rock fall - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Here is what I do not know. I do not know the owner of the Salt Valley rig. I do not know if their slant drilling extends to the border of Arches National Park or beyond. I do not know if vibrations from exploratory drilling will affect the national park. I do not know if any future hydraulic fracturing or gas extraction could cause earthquakes within Arches National Park.

Here is what I do know. Scientists usually discount any hypothesis until it is proven, one way or the other. Therefore, proof that my “drilling, fracking and earthquake hypothesis” is true will have to wait until the arches start to fall. On the other hand, maybe they already have. On August 5, 2008, Wall Arch fell at Devil’s Garden. At the time, smaller, mobile exploration rigs were at work in the Salt Valley.  Until we know all of the facts, I shall rest my case on the evidence at hand.

Email James McGillisEmail James McGillis

By James McGillis at 11:06 PM | Environment | Link

Blog Search

 →  Recent Posts

Snow in Death Valley National Park
The Colorado River's Demise - 2023
The Four Corners Region - Part 5
The Four Corners Region - Part 4
The Four Corners Region - Part 3
The Four Corners Region - Part 2
The Four Corners Region - Part 1
Mammoth Lakes, Summer 2020
Morro Bay, CA - Fire Season 2020
Camping at Panamint Springs, Part 2
Camping at Panamint Springs, Part 1
Camping at Mojave Preserve in 2020
Death Valley Winter Camping 2019
Edward Abbey & Friends at UNM Ch. 5
Edward Abbey & Friends at UNM Ch. 4
Edward Abbey & Friends at UNM Ch. 3
Edward Abbey & Friends at UNM Ch. 2
Edward Abbey & Friends at UNM Ch. 1
Planned Desecration of The Book Cliffs
Thompson Springs, Utah - History
Visit Historic Thompson Springs, Utah
Santa Susana Field Lab Contamination
Classmate Bob Lovejoy (1948 - 2018)
Titus Canyon and Titanothere Canyon
2018 - Is The Future a Mirage?
Return of the Moab Burro Crane
Moab - Desert Rocks Festival 2011
Moab, UT - Negro Bill Canyon Remains
Yosemite High Country Devastation
Furnace Creek - Death Valley, Calif.
Zabriskie Point - Death Valley, Calif.
Crescent Junction, Utah - New History
NTSB Final Report Omits Critical Data
Winter Camping in the Mojave Desert
2017 - Burbank Rose Parade Float
Sarah Thomas - World Record Swim
A Family Visit to Kaua'i, Hawaii in 1988
2016 - Cow Springs, AZ Trading Post
Metrolink - Meager Track Maintenance
'16 Beverly Hills Concours d'Elegance
It's Time to Audit Metrolink Operations
Ventura County - Deadly Rail Collision
Ventura County, CA - Rail Safety 2016
Metrolink Ignores Mismatched Brakes
Agencies Ignore Rail Safety Issues
Nevada - Vote Now to Bring Back Solar
Ventura County Rail Deaths Scandal
Google Pop Car- Rail Safety Plan
BNSF Locomotives on Metrolink Trains
2015 - Time to Phase Out Lake Powell
Navajo Power Plant Heat Island Effect
Of Mudflats and Methane Volcanoes
Metrolink Anti-Derailment Blade Failure
Metrolink to Spend $338 Million
The Glenn Steele Memorial Overpass
5th & Rice - A Deadly Railroad Crossing
The One, the Only - Plush Kokopelli
Metrolink Train Crash, A Personal Story
Moab, Utah - Lions Club Park - Part 2
Moab, Utah - Lions Club Park - Part 1
Deadly Crude Oil Trains Coming Soon
Metrolink Oxnard Train Collision Report
2015 Rare California Rain Barrels Help
So. California Lakes Soon to Disappear
C.Proietto - Cattolica, Cafe Eden Roco
Hollywood: "Violence is the New Sex"
2014 Spanish Valley Vineyards
Durango & Silverton Railroad Story
Is it Too Late to Save Moab, Utah?
BLM & SITLA - URLEA Subterfuge
Moab Pile to be "Moab Pit" - 2029
Moab in Springtime - May 2014
Old Mesquite, NV - Gone For Good
I-15 North - Mojave Desert Tour
Grand Co. Plans to Desecrate Site
Moab - County Plans Fail the Test
2014 - Quantum Leap in ATM Theft
Moab Kiley - Peaceful BLM Protest
Stop The BLM-SITLA Land Swap
Utah Recreational Land Exchange
Burro Cranes - A Complete History
Moab Burro at Seven Mile Canyon
Brightsource Solar's Flawed Design
Trend - Horsepower Mitigation Fees
Moab Rim Campark Sold in 2014
Durango, CO - Engine #478 - 1965
Durango, CO - Engine #476 - 1965
Red Lake Trading Post, Tonalea, AZ
Deconstruction at Cow Springs, AZ
Cow Springs, Navajo Art - 2013
Navajo/Hopi, New Energy Dilemma
Peabody Coal Stripmine Disappears
An Arizona River Dies in the Desert
Black Mesa Coal - Water & Power
2013 - The Great Western Drought
Homolovi State Park, AZ - No Ruins
C.Proietto Paints at Lago Maggiore
American Bison Herd Threatened
I-40, Twin Arrows - Both Old & New
Simi Valley Brush Fire - Air Power
I-40: Highway Tax Dollars At Work
Kristi Frazier - World Citizen Award
Sierra Nevada, CA - 2013 Drought
Desolation Canyon Wilderness Area
The Holbrook Basin Potash Project
Moab - Revisit Seven Mile Canyon
Moab - Greater Canyonlands N.M.
Thomas Kinkade - Yosemite Valley
C.Proietto Paints Lugano, Gandria
Paso Robles, CA - Wine Adventure
Colorado River Dine & Unwind Moab
Kodiak 100 --> Moab Charter Flight
The True Cost of Mineral Extraction
Moab Truck - 1950 Chevy 3100
Disappearance --> Reemergence
Edward Abbey - His Spirit Returns
Edward Abbey - Monkey Wrenching
Edward Abbey - Lake Powell 1965
Edward Abbey - Desert Solitaire 65
A New Message From AAMikael
C.Proietto Paints Bad Kreuznach
New Jersey - The New Atlantis?
Moab - A Rare Beech B-45 (T-34A)
Howell Mountain, CA - Winemaking
Oakville, CA - Robt. Mondavi Wines
Crescent Junction, UT - in 1955
Craig Childs - Apocalyptic Planet
Mammoth Lakes, CA - 1st. Snowfall
Mesquite, NV - A Disappearing Act
The Mystery of Hovenweep Road
Moab Airport - Canyonlands Field
Moab, UT - Save Ken's Lake Puddle
Jeeps & Downtown Abbey in Moab
Moab Valley vs. Spanish Valley, UT
Moab, Utah - Go Behind the Rocks
Moab Adventure Xstream Race '12
Face on Mars - Is it John Lennon?
C.Proietto - Paints The Dolomites
Moab Tower - The Wireless Story
Brendel, Utah - A History Mystery
C.Proietto - New Mystery Painting
Tsunami Risks Up in Crescent Bays
"Moab Native" Potash Comments
C.Proietto - And The Glory of Rome
L.A. to Australia, by 34-ft. Sailboat
Interstate I-70 East through Utah
Mesquite, NV - Opportunity Lost?
Las Vegas, NV "Drive-by" - I-15N
Ivanpah Valley, CA - Mega-Solar
Pearblossom Hwy. - Palmdale Road
C.Proietto - Venice Sunset, Sunrise
24-Hours of Moab 2012 to Happen
C.Proietto - A Portrait of the Artist
AOL & Yahoo Mail Getting Hacked
ATM Retail Technology - New & Old
C.Proietto - Solving An Art Mystery
Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles, CA
Hollywood - To The Sign & Beyond
Hollywood - Legendary Paul Pink's
Kokopelli Credit Union - New ATM
#1 Google Ranking & How to Get It
C.Proietto - Two New Oil Paintings
LACoFD Truck 8 at Hollywood Bowl
I-405 Golden Crane Air Hazard
Beware: Hoax/Scam Phishing Sites
A Quantum Leap in Super PAC $$$
I-405 Mulholland Bridge Update
Moab Skydiving Video - May 2011
Tonopah Desert, AZ Thunderstorm
Anticline Overlook - Ancient Spirit
ATM Bank Robbery Now Easier Still
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
Chaco Canyon - Kin Klizhin Sunset
Chaco Canyon - Kin Klizhin Ruin
Chaco Canyon, Spirit of Lizard Man
Chaco Canyon, NM - Campground
White Mesa, Utah - Uranium Mill
Hidden Costs in Biofuels Revealed
Arches National Park Threatened
Moab Rail - The U. P. Potash Local
Toxic Purple Dust Covers Moab, UT
U.S. Highway 191 in Moab, Utah
Kindle Fire Tablet vs. Nook Tablet
Ken's Lake 2011 Update, Moab, UT
24-Minutes of Moab Kids Bike Race
24-Hrs. of Moab, The Final Sunset?
24-Hours of Moab 2011 Race Start
24-Hrs. of Moab Race Live Webcam
The Long Run - Eagles Tribute Band
Petrified Forest, Going, Going, Gone
Nuclear Dust Storm Hits Moab, UT
Moab Rainbow - August 1, 2011
C.Proietto - The Man From Amalfi
I-405 UCLA Rampage - 11/22/66
Moab Rim RV Campark - 2011
C.Proietto Paints the Amalfi Coast
C.Proietto - Modern Impressionist
I-405 Mulholland Drive Bridge
Moab Pile - Countdown to Disaster
Wigwam Village - Holbrook, AZ
Kathy Hemenway - World Citizen
Desert View Mobil - Needles, CA
Mojave Desert Transit in May 2011
Colorado River Basin At Risk - Ch.4
Holbrook, AZ Water Crisis - Ch. 3
Holbrook Basin, AZ Potash - Ch. 2
Little Colorado River Basin - Ch. 1
Port Orford, Oregon - Tsunami
Hope for Atlantis - Chapter 4
Future of Atlantis - Chapter 3
The New Atlantis - Chapter 2
Atlantis, Myth or Fact? - Chapter 1
Kevin Rutherford - Freightliner RV
WindSong - Ericson 35 Sailboat
Moab Pile - The Mill Tailings Train
Moab Pile - Here Comes the Flood
24-Hours of Moab 2010 - The Race
24-Hours of Moab 2010 - The Start
24-Hours of Moab 2010 - Pre-Race
Moab, Utah - Winter Snowstorms
Happy New Decade - 2011
Save Ken's Lake, Moab, Utah 2010
UPS Air - Moab, Utah Style
Crescent Junction & Brendel, Utah
Green River to Floy, Utah - Video
Moab Ranch - The Movie & Webcam
An Oregon Cascades Range Sunset
The Port at Port Orford, Oregon
Simi Valley, CA Two Live Webcams
Two New MoabLive.com Webcams
Ave. of the Giants, Humboldt, CA
Port Orford, OR - Of Bears & Deer
Goodbye Arizona - We'll Miss You.
Port Orford, OR - A Forest Home
Sun, Moon and the Chakras of Gaia
2010 Super Bowl Advertising
Navajo National Monument Sunset
California Redwoods Elk Herd
A New Decade - The 2010's Begin
Moab - Could Floods Happen Here?
Spanish Valley, UT - Wine & Water
24 Hours of Moab Race - 2009
CA - Rainforest or Dustbowl?
Edward Abbey House, Moab, UT
Kayenta, AZ to Blanding, Utah
U.S. Highway 89 N. to Navajoland
Quartzsite - Black Canyon City, AZ
Simi Valley, CA to Quartzsite, AZ
Phoenix, Moab, The Grand Canyon
Colorado River - A New Challenge
Moab, Utah - The Shafer Trail
2009 - Moab Live Webcam Update
Moab, Utah - Potash Road, Part 2
Moab, Utah - Potash Road, Part 1
SITLA Deal Threatens Uintah Basin
Moab Wildfire Near Pack Creek, UT
Moab Ranch - Plasma Flow Event
Mill Creek Canyon Hike - Part Two
Mill Creek Canyon Hike - Part One
Memorial Day 2009, Burbank, CA
A Happy Ending for the Moab Pile?
The Old Spanish Trail - New Again
Mesquite, Nevada - Boom or Bust
Larry L. Maxam - An American Hero
Winter Camping in the Desert 2009
Theory of Everything - Part Four
Theory of Everything - Part Three
Theory of Everything - Part Two
Theory of Everything - Part One
Canyonlands Field, Moab, Utah
Access New Energy Now - 2008
The Four Corners States - Part 5
The Four Corners States - Part 4
The Four Corners States - Part 3
The Four Corners States - Part 2
The Four Corners States - Part 1
BC Buckaroos in Panama
Elton John T-shirt, Now Available
Arches National Park Threatened
BC Buckaroos Are Heading South
San Francisco, A New Energy City?
Seven Mile Canyon, Craig Childs
Matheson Wetlands Fire, Moab, UT
24-Hours of Moab Bike Race Finish
24-Hours at Moab Bike Race, Start
New York - The New Atlantis
Translate to Any Language Now
Marina del Rey, Summer Weekend
Seattle Shines in the Summertime
Oregon Battles With Itself - 2008
The Motor Yacht, Princess Mariana
Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park
The Mojave National Preserve, CA
Navajo National Monument, AZ
La Sal Mountains Loop Road, UT
The Moab Rim, Above and Below
Colorado Riverway Recreation, UT
Hovenweep - Twin Towers Standing
Aztec, New Mexico - Ancient Ruins
Kin Klizhin Ruin at Chaco Canyon
The Spirit of Pueblo Bonito, NM
Chaco Canyon, NM Sand and Rain
Homolovi Ruins State Park, AZ
ATM Bank Robbery Made Easy
Outstanding World Citizens, Fiji
Planning an Archetype Party
Sir Elton John - The Lost Concert
Start Writing Your Own Blog
My Unification Theory - 2008
Frito-Lay Beach-Trash Explosion
The Great Attractor, Revealed
Vibrational Thought & String Theory
The Long Run - Eagles Tribute Band
2006 Midterm Elections, Revisited
The Lost Murals of Denis O'Connor
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 10
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 9
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 8
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 7
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 6
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 5
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 4
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 3
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 2
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 1
Save Natewa Bay, Fiji Islands
The Fiji Islands - Paradise Lost?
Face on Mars
How Water Helped Make The West
Yahoo! - Fighting Its Last Battle?
Helium Gas, Neither Earth nor Mars
Megatrend vs. Meganiche - 2007
German Hydrogen Bomb Ready
Passing The $100,000 Bill
Google Wins - Microsoft Withdraws
A.Word.A.Day, You Ought to Know
San Fernando Valley Winemaking
Divine Inspiration, Or Nearly So
Japanese Win The Space Race
2007 eCommerce - Made Easy
Discovering The Great Reflector
Navajo National Monument, Arizona
Moab, Utah Memories - 2007
Fall Color, Silverton, Colorado
Autumn Equinox in the Rockies
Hasta la Vista, Taos, New Mexico
Megatrends 2010 - The Book
The Quantum Leap, New Mexico
Chaco Canyon Memories 2007
Flame-Out in Phoenix, Arizona
Annals of Homeland Security '07
Quartzsite, AZ - RV Camping
The Quantum Leap Celebration
Welcome to my new weblog 2007!

Colorado River
Current Events
Fine Art
Moab, Utah
Mojave Desert
Personal Articles
Railroad Safety
South Pacific

‹‹ May 2024 ››
Wk M T W T F S S
18 1 2 3 4 5
19 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
20 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
21 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
22 27 28 29 30 31    

Please visit our other sites in the MoabLive network.


© 2007 JamesMcGillis.com - All rights reserved. | Contact Me | Privacy Policy | Sitemap | RSS | Atom | Admin | Design: Nicholas Savalas | Author | Publisher | Top