HYRUM - The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is in town conducting a drilling operation at the dam.
For up to 10 days, the agency will be engaging in a "geotechnical exploration program," which an on-site geologist told The Herald Journal on Wednesday was geared at assessing the dam's possible performance in the case of an earthquake.
"On a periodic basis, we go out and check our dams to see how they're performing, and what we're doing here is checking to see how this dam will hold up in an earthquake," said Ira Terry, a geologist with the Bureau of Reclamation.
The dam, which serves purposes including flood control and water storage for irrigation, was built in 1934 and 1935.
"Over the years, technology changes," Terry said. "You know, since the 1930s, we've had a lot of technology changes, and so ... we go and drill and just see how they're performing. And we put instruments in the dam or whatever and then check it to see how that will perform during an earthquake."
Mike Talbot, project engineer with the Bureau of Reclamation, said the drilling will give a "better idea of what the dam embankment is made of." The crew will drill down to the foundation, which is essentially the land on which the dam sits.
The work will require a stretch of the northbound lane on Hyrum's 300 South to be closed, and traffic will be rerouted with temporary traffic lights.
Terry noted the crew will collect soil samples, which will help determine if future modifications to the dam and nearby spillway are needed.
"What (we're) looking for is any kind of layers that may be a soft layer within the dam or a sandy layer or something of that nature down in the foundation that could liquefy in an earthquake, that type of a thing," he said. "We don't even know if there is even a problem here at all at this point. That's what the drilling is for is to go in and determine if there is any kind of a problem. Modifications would be made if there is some sort of a problem."