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Gaia's Exhalation from the 2019 Searles Valley Earthquake
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  • Ira Leifer,
  • Christopher Melton,
  • David Tratt,
  • Donald Blake,
  • Kenneth Hudnut,
  • Simone Meinardi
Ira Leifer
Bubbleology Research International

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Christopher Melton
Bubbleology Research International
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David Tratt
The Aerospace Corporation
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Donald Blake
University of California Irvine
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Kenneth Hudnut
United States Geological Survey
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Simone Meinardi
University of California, Irvine
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The earth’s crust is a leaky geofluid system where surface trace gas emissions relate to open migration pathways and the presence of subsurface source(s). Seismic activity can open sealed migration pathways leading to trace gas emissions from the surface intersection of the active fault, which may not relate to observable surface fault rupture or offset. After the M7.1 Ridgecrest earthquake, we collected mobile surface trace gas and meteorology data with AMOG (AutoMObile trace Gas) Surveyor, a mobile atmospheric chemistry and meteorology lab, in the Death Valley Park and Searles Valley within 24 hours of the quake, the following week, and after several weeks with air samples also were collected for detailed later laboratory analysis. We found widespread highly elevated CO2 emissions along Panamint Valley including overall elevated SO2 and H2S with strong enhancements around Manly Pass, where aftershocks occurred at the northern edge of the Slate Range and along a trend parallel to Water Canyon. This is in contrast to AMOG data collected in Death and Panamint Valleys in 2014, where concentrations were typical of California desert levels–near ambient and uniform. Significant sulfur trace gas emissions were discovered escaping from the rim of Ubehebe Volcano, last active ~2500 B.P., 115-km north of the Slate Range. Faults appear to play an important role in these geogas emissions, activated by the major earthquake and aftershocks. Further investigations are planned to characterize the system’s return towards quiescence.