- Associated Press - Thursday, October 1, 2015

COLLBRAN, Colo. (AP) - A new report on the landslide that killed three men in western Colorado last year warns that the landside remains a threat to nearby residents.

The Colorado Geological Survey report says a pond that was formed when part of the Green River Formation faltered and slid down is a potential threat, The Daily Sentinel reported Thursday (https://bit.ly/1KU0AV5).

Collbran, located 6 miles below the slide, is not in danger, said state geologist Karen Berry. But ranchers and others living in the area should be aware of the pond, which is likely to refill in the spring.

“Continuing threats to nearby residents remain,” warns the Colorado Geological Survey in a new report on the landslide, which took the lives of three men on May 25, 2014.

According to the report, the slide covers nearly a square mile atop the West Salt Creek valley.

Mesa County is using a monitoring system to detect any changes in the slide.

Clancy and Dan Nichols - father and son - and Wes Hawkins died in the slide while they worked to clear an irrigation ditch.

The pond was formed when 35 million cubic yards of the Green River Formation faltered and slid down, the report said.

The pond water percolated through the slump block forming what geologists call a “pipe,” or conduit that lowered the level of the pond by about eight feet.

“At some point, the stream (West Salt Creek) is going to try to re-establish itself,” Berry said.

How that will work is still an unknown, said Jeff Coe, a U.S. Geological Survey geologist who has studied the slide.

“We don’t know where it will stop and we don’t know what the response will be” as snows melt and feed into the West Salt Creek drainage, Coe said. “That slump block continues to evolve. I’d like to get through a few more springs before I say we’re off the hook.”

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, also has been monitoring the north side of the Mesa with special radar, Coe said.

“Those data are still showing shifts, not real large ones,” Coe said. “The whole West Salt Creek slide is compacting and small areas on the slump block are changing.”

There is no evidence that a catastrophic change is imminent, Coe noted.


Information from: The Daily Sentinel, https://www.gjsentinel.com

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