According to an intriguing 1826 map atlas, an unnamed river flowed from Great Salt Lake (also unnamed at the time) all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The atlas, titled Morse’s New Universal Atlas of the World on an Improved Plan of Alphabetical Indexes, Designed for Academies and Higher Schools, was recently donated to the Utah Geological Survey

Thought to be the only communication between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, the map shows the river emptying into San Francisco Bay. These old maps are not only fascinating, but offer insight into the events taking place in the early 1800s – providing an almost 200-year-old visual history of the world.


Bob Odom is used to seeing a little bit more damage each year as a landslide carries his neighborhood a little bit further downhill. But this year the pace has slightly increased.

“It’s little bit more than normal,” Odom said, standing in a street that once was straight but is now bent and broken by a seemingly unstoppable force tearing his neighborhood apart.

The landslide typically moves at a pace of a few inches a year. This winter, geologic measurements show that it sped up a bit. Though it’s not a huge increase, it’s enough to serve as a warning of other potentially troublesome landslide activity around the state.

Geologists believe the slight speed-up is due to an unusual amount of water that entered the soil during wet weather in November and December.


It sounds like a bad joke: What has 29 Bars, 69 Devils, and 13 Heavens? Utah does. Those are part of the names of geographic features found throughout the state. The topic of interesting names was recently tackled by the Utah Geological Survey (UGS) in its “Glad You Asked” section of Survey Notes.

“Utah has more bars than Arizona, Nevada and Wyoming combined,” said Mark Milligan, a UGS geologist. Bars, in this case, are elongated ridges of sand, gravel or other sediment.

Utah beats other states by having ‘Wife’ in the name of two locations. Utah’s 69 Devils are trumped by God and Jesus, which total 1,163 combined. However, Hell is found 55 times, but Heaven only 13.

There are 104 ‘Strange’ names and 311 ‘Odd’ names in the United States, but surprisingly none are in the Utah. But Utah is swell having one of only 12 ‘Swell’ places across the U.S.




Geologic Information: The Devil seems to have inspired many geographic place names. According to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, 34 geographic features bear the name Devils Kitchen, and three of them are found in Utah. The Devils Kitchen that is the subject of this “GeoSights” article is a relatively small (about 700 feet across) south-facing amphitheater exposing redrock hoodoos at the head of Red Creek in the Wasatch Range, about 14 road miles northeast of the town of Nephi in Juab County.

About 60 to 70 million years ago the rock at Devils Kitchen was gravel, sand, and mud deposited by streams flowing out of a now-long-gone mountain range. Continuing deposition resulted in deep burial which, coupled with deep time, compressed and cemented the sediment, transforming it into rock.

With its red hoodoos, Devils Kitchen looks a bit like a miniature Bryce Canyon. The mineral hematite (iron oxide) creates the red color.

Beginning roughly 17 million years ago, movement of the Wasatch fault slowly uplifted the Wasatch Range, with Devils Kitchen along for the ride. The rise of the Wasatch Range empowered erosion to excavate and expose the rock we see today.


For several years the Utah Geological Survey has outsourced research to improve understanding of Utah’s natural resources.

The purpose of this solicitation is to enter into a contract (or contracts) with a qualified individual or firm to provide geologic research on Utah’s: (1) oil and natural gas resource potential, (2) unconventional oil and gas resources such as tar sands and oil shale, (3) geothermal resources, (4) economic metals, (5) industrial minerals, and (6) geologic studies that will improve understanding of Utah’s geologic resources.

The goal of this work is to sustain development through diversification of energy, metal, and mineral, supplies and mitigate the impacts of boom – bust cycles. It is anticipated that this solicitation may result in several contracts being awarded. The Utah Geological Survey anticipates awarding up to eight individual contracts at a maximum $25,000 each. Lower cost proposals will be welcomed.

The deadline for submission of proposals is 4:00 p.m. on Friday, May 27, 2011.



The Utah Geological Survey (UGS) has made its ground-water monitoring data available to the public through its new Ground-Water Monitoring Data Portal; with just a few simple clicks you can track water level trends in wells, and flow rates from springs in Snake Valley and adjacent areas.

Or, if your interest is in landslide potential this spring, you can find out what the water levels are in wells in and near landslides along the Wasatch Front. Users can easily find wells and springs using a map interface, view graphs of the data, and download graphic or tabular data in several formats.

The UGS has made the information available, in part due to the large amount of interest in proposed water-development projects in Snake Valley in west-central Utah and east-central Nevada. The ground-water levels, which have been continuously monitored by the UGS since 2007, have declined in areas of current pumping, suggesting that use is presently at or near the maximum sustainable rate for the region and that if pumping rates increase in the future, the rate of water-level decline would likely increase.



Beautiful Bear Lake is called “the Caribbean of the Rockies” because of its vivid turquoise-blue water, but why is Bear Lake so Blue? A new booklet published by the Utah Geological Survey answers this and 16 other commonly asked questions about the lake.

The 41-page booklet is filled with dozens of photographs, maps, and figures. It contains information on geology, biology, hydrology, weather, recreation, history, the Ice Age, the modern and prehistoric connection to the Bear River, and laws and regulations governing the use of the lake. Those with a keen eye might even spot the mysterious Bear Lake Monster hidden within its pages.

In addition to its scenic splendor, Bear Lake is a scientific wonder. It is Utah’s deepest and one of North America’s oldest lakes, older than Great Salt Lake, older than the Great Lakes. Bear Lake’s great age makes it a history book of past climates and environments, a hot topic as of late. For this reason the lake was recently the subject of intensive scientific study. Cores drilled in lake-bottom mud show a continuous record back some 250,000 years, but the lake-bottom mud continues beyond what the deepest core (393 feet) could penetrate, and the lake is likely twice that old, perhaps even several million years old. Why is Bear Lake So Blue? highlights this and other findings of the study.




Water watchers worried about wells in Snake Valley — the focus of a controversial plan to pump water from an aquifer that straddles the Utah-Nevada border — can with just a few clicks track water level trends out in Utah’s Great Basin region.

The Utah Geological Survey is making its ground-water monitoring data available online for Snake Valley and adjacent areas as well as the water level in wells near landslides along the Wasatch Front.

Users can find wells and springs using a map interface, view graphs of the data and even download graphic data in several formats.

Critics fear taking the water will drawn down the aquifer, jeopardizing the needs of area water users, which include ranchers and farmers in Utah.

A press release by the survey said it has made the information available in part due to a groundswell of interest in a proposed water-development project in Snake Valley, which straddles the border of western Utah and eastern Nevada.