ROTTEN EGG SMELL DESCENDS UPON OVER A MILLION IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
September 12, 2012
(NATIONAL) -- It was a horrible smell, somewhat like rotten eggs that descended upon Southern Californians this week affecting the noses of up to a million people in L.A. County, Ventura County, San Bernardino County, Riverside County and Orange County and perhaps even points beyond.
The Salton Sea: not really a "sea" by traditional standards at all. Photo: Wikipedia commons. CICK TO OPEN
How bad was it? The examiner.com quoted Janis Dawson the Salton Sea Authority as saying they thought, “That somebody had an accident, a broken sewage main, that's how strong it was."
It started blanketing the region Monday September 10 and lingered through the afternoon of Sept. 11 dissipating slowly in the afternoon.
What was it?
Well, while authorities aren’t 100% sure it appears, according to a report in the Contra Costa Times here that the source of the smell was something that happened at the land-locked Salton Sea, some 150 miles away from the vast region of counties upon which the smell descended.
That highly saline body of water - is located 226 feet below sea level mostly in California’s Imperial Valley - is famous locally for bad smells from periodic fish kills offs in the sea and it is thought that thunderstorms near the Salton Sea picked up and pushed the foul smelling air, caused by decaying fish carcasses into Southern California even though it’s pretty unusual for that strong an odor to carry itself intact to places 150 miles away.
THE SALTON SEA: AN ODD BODY OF WATER
The Salton sea is described in various print dictionaries and by Wikipedia as a “shallow, endoheric rift lake” that sits in an “endoheric” basin right on top of the famous Sam Andreas earthquake fault and is located (226 feet below sea level) mostly in California’s Imperial Valley.
An endorheic basin, also called a terminal or closed terminal or closed basin, is a “closed drainage basin” that retains water and allows no outflow of that water to other external bodies of water, such as rivers or oceans.
The outflow instead converges into lakes or swamps, permanent or seasonal that equilibrate through evaporation. Normally, water that has accrued in a drainage basin eventually flows out through rivers or streams on the Earth's surface or by underground diffusion through permeable rock, ultimately ending up in the oceans.
However, in an endoheric basin, rain (or other precipitation) that falls within it does not flow out but may only leave the drainage system by evaporation and seepage. The bottom of such a basin is typically occupied by a salt lake or salt pan.
Endoheric water bodies include some of the largest lakes in the world, such as the Aral Sea and the Caspian Sea, the world's largest saline body of water cut off from the ocean, according to Wikipedia.