Slideshow: Lessons from Aliso Canyon

The Aliso Canyon leak, which began on October 23, 2015 at a SoCalGas natural gas storage facility and took nearly four months to plug, was one of the largest environmental disasters in U.S. history, triggering the evacuation of more than 6,800 nearby households. The sudden flood of natural gas—a mixture of mostly methane and ethane—offers scientists a unique opportunity to study how the environment responds. 

 

 

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Alexander Safian (center) and Allison Teunis (right), graduate students at California State University Channel Islands, work with Patricia Tavormina, associate research scientist at Caltech, to collect a soil core in Aliso Canyon. This background collection site was visited regularly during 2016 to provide baseline estimates of bacterial communities in the soil.

Sally Newman (left), senior research scientist at Caltech, assists students while gathering paired air samples. Newman uses evacuated flasks to collect air for methane and carbon dioxide concentration estimates.

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