2000 Meters Under the Salton Sea

Four thousand miles beneath the surface of the earth is a hot molten core reaching temperatures of 10,000’F.  Some of that heat winds its way up through fissures and faults towards the surface manifest as hotsprings, volcanism or, increasingly, harnessed as geothermal energy. The Salton Sea, a sea created by an engineering debacle in the quest for water, is a hot spot of geothermal activity – both geological and commercial.

These images are from digital photographic scans of geothermal cores drilled in 1986 as part of the Salton Sea Scientific Drilling Project, an investigation funded by the US Department of Energy of the geothermal system in the Imperial Valley of southern California. In 1986 the borehole reached a depth of 3.22 km (almost 2 miles) with temperatures as high as 355’C, the samples dated as far as the beginning of the Pleistocene era. 

2000 Meters Under The Salton Sea is an assemblage of geothermal cores from the SSSDP animated as a slow pan downward giving the sense of an elevator into the earth. Combined with the cores, I’m working with images from the 1926 silent film, The Winning of Barbara Worth, based on a 1911 novel of the same name, a fictionalized account of the flood forming the Salton Sea based on the 1911 novel of the same name. 

This is the fourth in a series of underscapes; landscape portraiture focused on the unseen but critical processes involved in climate change and energy. 88 Cores is a 4 1/2 hr video descent through the Greenland Ice Core (GISP2D) projected at large scale at the Climate Museum in NYC (2018); UnderLA documents the Los Angeles Aquifer in two 30 min videos from USGS soil monitoring wells under Los Angeles, projected on the Los Angeles River at two outdoor sites and shown as part of the Los Angeles Biennale, CURRENT:LA in 2016; HeadsUP!2012, a design visualization challenge displaying NASA/JPL global groundwater data in Times Square, NYC.