A wind of change is blowing through South Weber, possibly bringing with it clean energy and a tax profit for the city.

South Weber Winds, a locally owned firm, wants to develop a $30 million wind farm in South Weber at the mouth of Weber Canyon, using a portion of the electricity generated by the turbines to power the cities of South Weber and Uintah. The remaining energy generated would then be sold.

Scott Casas, co-owner of the company with Reuel Alder, is to appear before the South Weber City Council tonight requesting an exclusive license from the city to develop the project at the mouth of Weber Canyon. The meeting is at 7 p.m. at South Weber City Hall, 1600 E. South Weber Drive.

“We’re also interested to see if the city would like partial ownership (in the wind farm),” said Casas, who compared it to how Spanish Fork owns land where a nine-turbine wind farm in that city is located.

Mayor Jeff Monroe said Monday he didn’t yet have a lot of information about the wind farm proposal, but the mayor stressed he wants to keep an open mind.

One factor that will have to be taken into consideration, Monroe said, is the look of the project and whether residents would approve having it within their view.

“I’m not sure how that is going to look,” Monroe said. “My eyes will either be opened, or I will be going, ‘Oh, my heck.’ ”



Getting ready to save a dog that’s fallen down a mine shaft sounds scary, but rescue crew
members like Corbin Allred said they jump at the chance to put their skills to
use and save a life.

Buster, Parowan resident Bob Giles’ playful black mutt, fell down a 30-
foot hole, possibly an old mine shaft, in the Parowan red hills west of town Wednesday morning while chasing a rabbit.

Giles and members of the Utah Geological Survey had been in the area, located off a dirt road at the Parowan Gap, when Buster shot off running and didn’t see the hole, Giles said.

“By the time he saw (the hole) it was too late, he was already committed to sliding down in there, and the rocks were so loose, he couldn’t stop himself from sliding,” Giles said, watching while the rescue crew prepared to send Allred into the hole to retrieve Buster.
Within half an hour of harnessing, Iron County Search and Rescue members slowly pulled Allred and the dog out of the deep hole, rocks sliding, Giles helping alongside the crew by tugging the rope back.

“Are you the one who saved him?” Giles asked Allred with a huge grin as the crew released Buster and watched him run, uninjured, around his rescuers. “I’m so, so grateful for all of you for saving him.”

Iron County Sheriff ’s Office Deputy Jeremy Holm said it’s the sheriff ’s call on how and who responds. The 20- person rescue crew started more than three years ago, and has responded to similar calls across the county, including the iron mines and Cedar Mountain.


A volunteer panel that assesses earthquake risks in Utah said it examined nearly 130 school buildings in the state and found more than half fail to meet federal earthquake safety guidelines.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported Friday that 77 of 128 Utah school buildings examined by the Utah Seismic Safety Commission failed the so-called sidewalk surveys last fall.

Officials say most school buildings are made of unreinforced bricks and blocks. They’d be unlikely to stand up to a significant temblor.

The 15-member commission — made up of engineers, architects, government officials and others — reviews earthquake hazards and advises lawmakers, and state and local agencies. Its latest findings are in a report called “Utah Students at Risk: The Earthquake Hazards of School Buildings.”

Using a computerized seismic evaluation tool approved by FEMA, the engineers found that 51 of the 128 school buildings were strong enough to withstand a significant temblor. Another 77 buildings had a 1-in-100 chance of collapsing during the biggest earthquake that is considered likely.

The Utah Geological Survey and U.S. Geological Survey have said an earthquake about 500 years ago tore a deep gash along a 35-mile section of the Wasatch Fault known as the Weber segment.

The quake was likely a magnitude 6.5 or 7 — large enough to cause major damage if it occurred today.

Project engineer Barry Welliver says all 1,000 school buildings in the state need to be checked.

“We’re trying to say you can’t afford to do nothing,” said Welliver, a member of the Structural Engineers Association of Utah, which co-sponsored the report.



Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and the Utah Geological Survey in Salt Lake City discovered and classified the skeletons of two new species of dinosaurs. Dated to the Early Cretaceous Epoch (approximately 145.5 to 99.6 million years ago), both are beaked herbivorous dinosaurs classified as iguanodonts. The two skeletons were found at different sites in Utah, one near Green River and the other near Arches National Park.

The first new species of dinosaur is hippodraco scutodens. The first part of the name means “horse dragon,” and the second “shield tooth.” The scientists chose the name because the shape of the skull resembles that of a horse and its tooth crowns look much like oblong shields. The dinosaur also has a shelf of bone extending along the lower jaw parallel to its teeth, something not found in other iguanodonts. Paleontologists recovered nearly the entire skeleton, including the skull, vertebrae, and limbs, although many of the bones were crushed. It is estimated at 15 feet long, although scientists do not think the dinosaur was fully grown when it died, so adult hippodraco dinosaurs may have been larger. The dinosaur discovered in Utah is believed to be approximately 125 million years old.



The Utah Department of Natural Resources has opened an online bookstore to complement its existing store at department headquarters.

Customers can now buy topographic and recreational maps at

Bookstore manager Pat Stokes says many customers have been frustrated by construction on the North Temple viaduct. She says the online bookstore will allow customers to shop at their own convenience and allow anyone unable to visit the physical store to
continue to shop.

Besides maps, the store features a variety of recreational and historical books as well as geologic publications.

The physical store is open Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.



A new page has been added to the UGS web site.

Cretaceous Mancos Shale, Uinta Basin, Utah:
Resource Potential and Best Practices for an Emerging Shale-Gas Play

Funded by Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America


Shopping is now easier at the Natural Resources Map & Bookstore. The store, known for its extensive collection of topographic and recreational maps, now provides easy-to-use online shopping for its customers. The Web site is:

“Our customers who have been frustrated by the construction on the North Temple viaduct and TRAX rail will be able to shop at their own convenience,” said Pat Stokes, bookstore manager.

“The Web site is a wonderful resource for anyone unable to visit the store during our regular business hours or those who live out-of-state.”


This Issue Contains:

  • Land Subsidence and Earth Fissures in Cedar Valley
  • Updated Landslide Maps of Utah
  • GPS Monitoring of Slow-Moving Landslides
  • Liquefaction in the April 15, 2010, M 4.5 Randolph Earthquake
  • Glad You Asked: What are the Roots of Geobotany?
  • Teacher’s Corner
  • GeoSights: Devils Kitchen, Juab County, Utah
  • Survey News
  • Energy News: Energy Office in Transition
  • New Publications



Tar sands development often conjures images of a bleak northeast Alberta landscape, scraped and scalped of its vegetation after being converted to sprawling strip mines from which much of Canadian oil imports to the United States originate.

But if a proposal by Alberta-based Earth Energy Resources survives environmentalists’ appeal, eastern Utah’s canyon country could become a backdrop for the only tar sands mine in the United States.

In 2009, Utah mining regulators approved EER’s proposed PR Spring Mine on state institutional trust land in Uintah and Grand counties northwest of Grand Junction, Colo. If the mine is successful, it could prove the viability of a Utah tar sands industry, possibly bringing a new level of energy development to the Colorado Plateau.

Tar sand, also called oil sand, bituminous sand or asphaltic sandstone, is oil-laden sedimentary rock most commonly extracted in Canada. Utah’s tar sands, however, are generally half as rich as Canada’s and require more processing to extract the oil.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that Utah tar sands harbor between 12 billion and 19 billion barrels of oil, with at least 2 billion barrels to be found at PR Spring.

The push to develop tar sands in Utah is a fairly recent phenomenon.

Determined to find a way for American oil shale and tar sands to become sources of domestic energy production, Congress required the U.S. Department of Energy to start up a tar sands and oil shale leasing program as part of the 2005 Energy Policy Act.

In 2008, the DOE completed an environmental study of its tar sands and oil shale program, outlining 11 potential tar sands development areas in Utah, the only state in which tar sands are thought to be economically recoverable.



In Utah’s arid, wind-swept deserts, paleontologists would be shocked to go an entire year without stumbling across the remains of a rock-encrusted dinosaur. Yet naming eight new species in 2010 was beyond their annual optimism.

“It’s actually a banner year,” said Mark Loewen, research curator and paleontologist for the Utah Museum of Natural History and adjunct assistant professor in geology and geophysics at the University of Utah. “Even back in the 1870s, when people first discovered dinosaurs here, there was never a year in which eight dinosaurs were named.”

Utah’s oldest, new stars include creatures like the Abydosaurus mcintoshi, Utahceratops gettyi and Hippodraco scutodens, horned, spiked and long-tailed creatures who inhabited Utah as far back as 125 million years ago.

“I’m not sure I could say one is more important than the other,” said Dan Chure, park paleontologist at Dinosaur National Monument near Vernal. “They’re all interesting depending on what type of scientific problem you’re working on. Some are more complete than others, but they’re all providing evidence on the evolution of dinosaurs that is important.”

The carnivorous terrors and prehistoric plant eaters were all found on Bureau of Land Management land in eastern Utah, except one, which was found in Dinosaur National Monument on National Park Service land.

Although the actual discovery of bones may have been several years ago, the process of excavating, lab research and getting a paper published in a journal constitute a dinosaur’s official “naming” — which happened eight times this year, said Don DeBlieux, paleontologist with the Utah Geological Survey.