By Michael Abeyta and Alan Gionet

ELBERT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Anadarko Petroleum is cleaning up after a 4 inch gas line broke beneath a ranch between Bennett and Kiowa on County Road 53 creating what looked like a bubbling crater.

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(credit: CBS)

Landowner Joanna Meston noticed it.

“We gathered up our cattle a few weeks ago to sort them and sell some of them and one of the bulls was missing,” Meston said.

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Joanna Meston (credit: CBS)

She looked around and could see her bull wandering down by the Kiowa Creek, which runs through her property.

She let him go for the time being, but after a couple weeks of her bull being away from the herd she decided to go get him.

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(credit: CBS)

“I was coming down from that hill and saw this depression here. At first I thought it was a hole he dug because sometimes the bulls will do that when they are mad. I got closer and it’s this hot spring,” Meston said.

Something about this crater and the water in it was disconcerting for her.

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(credit: CBS)

“You can smell the sulfur, and you can tell that there’s heat, and it looks like the material around it is burnt,” Meston said.

So she decided to do a little research.

“I went online and started looking things up, and the best thing I could find that sounded like it was a mud pot similar to what you find up around Yellowstone,” she said.

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(credit: CBS)

Meston also thought maybe it could have something to do with oil and gas pipelines.

“There are natural gas pipelines… and a gas collection area is only about a quarter mile to the west. So it’s possible there could be pipelines pretty close to this thing,” Meston said.

“As far as all are concerned, this is a unique event – none of the engineers or geologists have seen such a crater before,” according to Paul Morgan with the Colorado Geological Survey.

“Anadarko engineers were at the site by 2:45 pm investigating the crater, a remarkably quick response after they were notified (thanks to the heads up from Channel 4),” Morgan added.

The problem comes from a gas gathering line says Anadarko’s Jennifer Brice. Brice said Anadarko has shut off the flow and is making repair and mediating damage. The line had been leaking gas and condensate.

Gathering lines move gas from the wellhead to a collection point. They feed into larger pipelines.

Michael Abeyta is a 4th generation Coloradan and a Multimedia Journalist for CBS4. His stories can be seen on CBS4 News at 5 & 6. He is on Twitter! Follow him @AbeytaCBS4.

Alan Gionet is anchor of CBS4 This Morning and reports on a wide variety of issues and “Good Question” stories. He started at CBS4 in 1994. Follow Alan on Twitter @AlanGTV or on Facebook.

Comments (4)
  1. Hmmm. Bubbling cauldrons of sulpher/sulphur odor…isn’t this a geological harbinger of a volcano about to erupt? This county is not that close to Yellowstone, in human terms, but in geologic terms, I have to wonder, as a layman, if this could be a remote magma vent for the Yellowstone caldera?

    I’d like to know what a geologist would say about the vent possibility. On the other hand, if the repairs Anadarko makes causes the bubbling to stop, mystery solved. Still, natural gas has no odor, so why the sulpuric scent? Hmmmm…..

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