Since September 2, more than 300 earthquakes have occurred in Southeast Idaho. The seismic flurry has produced as many as 34 earthquakes in a single day with the shaking felt as far away as Salt Lake City, Utah.
All of the quakes have occurred in Caribou County, which is an area southeast and northeast of Soda Springs, Idaho. The most powerful quake recorded was a 5.3, an alarming fact considering it has been years since the state has had an earthquake above a 5.0.
According to experts, the worst-case scenario is that the earthquake swarm will end with a catastrophic 7.0 that would destroy towns and kill people.
Could There Be More To The Earthquakes Than Natural Tectonic Plate Activity?
The same exact area where the intense seismic activity is occurring is also the location of the world’s most concentrated phosphate rock mine, owned and operated by Monsanto.
In Soda Springs, Monsanto mines phosphate rock to create elemental phosphorous, which is a key component in formulating glyphosate. Glyphosate is the chief ingredient in Monsanto’s best-selling Roundup weedkiller and is made by heat-fusing phosphorous, formaldehyde, and glycine.
Phosphorous is also used to create chemical fertilizers, which is the largest industry in global agribusiness representing a $175 billion market. (Dull in comparison, GMO and seed companies, including Monsanto, DuPont, Dow, Bayer, and Syngenta represent a $93 billion market.)
Monsanto’s phosphorous operation in Idaho also produces a large portion of the world’s supply of white phosphorous, a devastating chemical weapon that has been used on civilian populations in Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria.
According to the CDC’s website, Monsanto is one of three corporations in the world that produce and sell white phosphorous. Redacted U.S. Army files also verify that Monsanto provided the deadly chemical to both United States and Israeli militaries.
Environmental Impacts Caused By Phosphate Mining
According to a study by Christian D. Klose of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, mining can trigger earthquakes. Klose has identified more than 200 human-caused quakes in the past 60 years and attributes the majority of them to mining. (Klose’s study focuses on coal, but phosphate is in the same category known as soft-rock underground mining.)
Could the 300+ earthquakes that have jostled Idaho actually be explosions? Sue Nava, Personal Communications for the University of Utah Seismographic Stations, documents that numerous explosions from phosphate mining have been recorded in the Soda Springs area.
As of 2011, an astonishing 16,987 acres have been mined with an additional 7,340 acres in Monsanto’s crosshairs. In addition 15,000 acres have been leased and 50,000 acres have been targeted due to their “viable phosphate reserves”. A total of 2,500 square miles – an area larger than Rhode Island – have been permanently destroyed from phosphate mining.
“The one thing about mining,” says Monsanto’s public affairs director Trent Clark, “is you can’t just sort of say, hmm, here’s a great place to mine. I think I’ll mine here. The reason is you have to mine where nature has put the ore.”
While no one can say for sure if Monsanto’s phosphate mining is to blame for Idaho’s great shake-up, it is oddly coincidental that the seismic activity is occurring in the very same area where Monsanto is digging, especially considering the state has never witnessed so many earthquakes in such a short time.
Article image courtesy of panoramio.com