Kern's Holler Contrarian Opinion

The New Atlantis

Eyewitness report by El Bonobo Bandito 

About a dozen or so miles from the booming coastal town of Ocotillo, California, the old US Interstate 8 comes to a sudden end in the shallow waters of the Northern Sea of Cortez. Thirty five or so miles across the water, beyond the horizon, the other end of the Interstate picks up again.

Under the waves: The New Atlantis.

Who can forget that moonless night ten years ago when the southern end of the San Andreas Fault ruptured, but instead of the energy following the fault north west into Palm Springs and shaking the rich people into their next lives, or getting picked up by the Laguna Range Pluton and giving San Diego county the wakeup call of the Millennium the energy miraculously traveled south and east, pickup up steam as it were at all the ladder faults down into the actual waters of the Sea of Cortez.

The Towns of Niland and Bombay Beach were instantly destroyed, first falling apart, then disappearing deep into the salty sediments of the Salton Sink. Some survivors made it out, and up to Slab City. Miraculously, Leonard, the Artist and Mystic of Salvation Mountain, survived the Quake, and the following deluge: Many took this as proof of the existence of his notion of the Christian God, and many people from around the world later flocked to his new estates by the eastern shore of the sea, to help continue the mountain and preach his version of Loving Christianity.

But that came years later, long before Leonard crested into the start of his second century and sudden fame and fortune.

With the Lurching of the Fault line, the Salton Sea picked up and decided to move its entirety NORTH. Salton City, Salton Sea Beach, Desert Shores, and Mecca were all washed over by a ten foot wave within minutes, and partially destroyed. The initial wave made it all the way up to Thermal, flooding the streets. Coachella and Indio were shaken, but spared in this initial flex of water.

In those first five minutes faults ruptured south and east. Westmorland, Brawley, El Centro all flattened to the foundations of the buildings.

And still the energy moved south, and east, into the spreading centers between the American Plate and the Pacific Plate beneath the northern end of the Sea of Cortez.

Great Fissures opened up where the ladder faults crossed the southern end of the Imperial Valley, as sediments deposited over millions of years dropped ten to thirty feet in some places in a matter of seconds.

There the end of it all had its start, a fault that had not moved in three thousand years ruptured four hundred miles long it's length, dropping one side over five hundred feet from the other, and creating Tsunamis heading South East and North West within the Sea of Cortez.

Every coastal town on both sides of the sea was swept away by the south ward motion of the Tsunami. It was still thirty feet high when it reached the opening of the Sea of Cortez into the Pacific, spreading out mostly harmlessly into the Pacific Ocean, though it did lower and raise the waters a bit in the Galapagos Islands, and the Tourists at Easter Island noticed a uniform five foot wave coming out of the north, spreading horizon to horizon east and west, and continued on south. Boats still in the harbor there were wrecked.

The North West Tsunami started fifty five miles south of the Colorado River Delta in the Sea of Cortez, in waters two miles deep. A Sixty Foot Surge of Sea Water reached the Delta, which only being a few feet above sea level and experienced a century of Erosion since the creation of the dam system on the Colorado has stopped the deposition of silts: after the passing of the Tsunami there was no longer a Delta.

The Tsunami surged up the Colorado River basin, and found old channels that the river once followed down into the Imperial Valley. There it found the new passages formed by the collapse of the land not an hour before, and carved them deeper.

A below sea level channel had opened between the northern end of the Sea of Cortez and the Imperial Valley.

Some of the Tsunami continued into the southern farm lands south east of Mexicali, the rest of it fell back into the Sea of Cortez.

For the next day secondary waves, reflections of the first Tsunamis, crossed and re-crossed the Sea of Cortez, taking nearly three days before the energies spent themselves. Yet even during this time it was Obvious that waters were slowly but surly pouring down into the new channel and extending the Sea of Cortez northward. A near constant wall of water twenty feet high and ten miles across. But only near constant during high tide, as at the low tide hours the deluge would drop to a free feet high at most, and often dry up.

But wave after wave of Sea Water continued northward.

There was no time to attempt to plug the hole into California, as Global Relief Efforts were focusing on the thousands of miles of coastline along both sides of the Sea of Cortez that had been devastated. Thousands and thousands of 4.5 and higher aftershocks rattled the Salton Sink, and a new plume of steam was seen in the southern end, before the first SURGE from the Sea of Cortez came plunging down the New and Alamo River Channels.

Forty thousand people were killed in the Imperial and Salton Basins alone, another Hundred and Seventy Thousand made a desperate flight for their lives to the east, the west, and the north, in a land constantly shaking. Most of them got out before the I-8 Corridor returned to being the flood plain it once was.

What had survived the mini Tsunami of the Salton Sea lurching north slowly but surely sank beneath the rising waters as after two to three million years the Salton Sea rejoined the Sea of Cortez, instead of pretending to be its river driven cousin as Lake Cahuilla.

And the Restless waters were not content just to raise the level of the Salton Sea. The ancient lake bed, the subsidence zone where the Sea of Cortez once extended, stretched all the way up to the I-10. Parts of Indio would eventually succumb to the new waters, and sink beneath the waves, the rest of the City becoming a new sea port town.

All the sea floor land below the northern end of the Sea of Cortez is unstable, and plans to build a bridge across it were abandoned early on. Also the emergency of new Obsidian Cones where the southern end of the Salton Sea had been were not encouraging, as was the constant plume of steam.

The only ways in and out of San Diego, and Baja as well, were along the I-5 and I-15 North/South Corridors. And State Route 79 in North Eastern San Diego County would eventually link up with roads leading to Palm Springs. SR-78 was now a shattered road, like the I-8, ending in the waters of the northern edge of the sea.

Borrego Springs suffered a boom of sorts, a desert town of natural springs, with a road leading thru picturesque Bad Lands and terminating at the shores of the sea. The overly optimistically named Salton Sea Highway now actually lead to new and living waters, terminating only seven miles from where it once crossed the SR-86, now under 100 feet of sea water.

We lost hundreds of thousands of acres of farm land. We gained several hundred miles of coast line, and some of the best fishing in the world. Were agriculture once fought to endure against salty sands, now aquaculture flourishes, as does aquatic recreation.

In the new harbor carved to the west of Borrego Springs, Cruise Lines stop.  Looking back over this decade past, who would have believed, in 2040, that we’d never be able to drive straight through to Yuma from San Diego ever again.