In 1982, six years before the New Year's Eve breach of the Quail Creek Reservoir, a state geologist warned of the same geological problems that a special blue-ribbon panel now concludes should have been studied more extensively.

Bruce N. Kaliser, formerly of the Utah Geological and Mineral Survey, even called for slant drilling as a way to examine the fractured underground formations he believed were present - a procedure the panel also recommended.In 1982 memos, Kaliser made these points:

- The area where the dike failed had "joint openings," or fractures.

- Slant drilling was desirable to get more information about the joints.

- More geological information was needed.

Six and a half years later, state officials hired four outside consultants to examine the failure of the dike, which is nine miles northeast of St. George.

Three major sets of nearly vertical fractures were present in the foundation, the team wrote. The fractures "permitted significant seepage flow" beneath the dike. The fracture patterns ran perpendicular to the dike, carrying water beneath it.

The report charged that "foundation exploration was not designed or complete enough to fully detect seepage problems associated with these joints."

Slant drilling might have found the vertical fractures, team leader Robert L. James said. But the drilling that took place was straight up and down, inadequate to fully detect the fractures, he added.

According to findings the team released last week, the Quail Creek Dike failed because its lowest layer was not sealed off, allowing water seeping beneath it to carry away the fill of which it was

made. It wasn't sealed off because of faulty assumptions about the underground geology, they said.

The experts concluded that three major sets of nearly vertical fractures were present in the underground formations, the area's natural foundation. The fractures "permitted significant seepage flow" beneath the dike, says the panel's report. The fractures ran perpendicular to the dike, carrying water beneath it.

Project planners assumed there would be little or no seepage underground. This assumption was "not valid and had a profound effect on design of seepage erosion protection," the report says.

That profound effect was that planners thought not much water would seep through, because they weren't aware of the extent of the fractures. After that, the dike's bottom layer was not adequately sealed off from the water moving below it, so the water eventually eroded the dike itself, according to the report.

The structure could have benefited from a layer of sealant material below the entire dike to prevent erosion of the dike, James said, but it didn't have one.

If erosion had been prevented, the dike might have been saved, according to the report. The methods to prevent erosion were inadequate, because the amount of seepage was not accurately predicted, the experts believe.

But in 1982 Bruce N. Kaliser, a geologist formerly with the Utah Geological and Mineral Survey, warned of the dangerously broken nature of the reservoir site. And he even called for exactly the kind of further studies that the blue-ribbon panel said should have been performed.

On Oct. 7, 1982, Kaliser visited the basin where the reservoir was to be built. After his three-hour study, he wrote a memo addressed to Daniel F. Lawrence, at the time the director of the Utah Division of Water Resources. The memo was to be delivered by Genevieve Atwood, the Survey's director.

Kaliser asked for more information about a series of potential geological problems.

His 1982 memo makes these points:

- Angled holes should be drilled in the reservoir basin "to gain some knowledge of the joint openings as well as spacing." Joint openings are fractures in the underground rock.

- Adequate information should be acquired about the abutments and stress-release points.

- "The hydrogeologic regime (that is, the way water moves in the ground) in the site vicinity should be comprehended."

- Better knowledge is required "of the occurrences of gypsum beds and veins along both (the word was emphasized) the dam and dike alignments. Local deformation, by intrusion or collapse mechanisms, must be known."

Last week, the main points of the blue-ribbon panel's report were remarkably similar to Kaliser's concerns more than six years ago.

Kaliser's comments

In 1982, former State Hazards Geologist Bruce N. Kaliser made the following remarks in a memo concerning the yet-to-be built Quail Creek Reservoir:

- The area where the dike failed had "joint openings," or fractures.

- Angled holes should be drilled in the reservoir basin "to gain some knowledge of the joint openings as well as spacing." Joint openings are fractures in the underground rock.

- Adequate information should be acquired about the abutments and stress-release points.

- "The hydrogeologic regime (that is, the way water moves in the ground) in the site vicinity should be comprehended."

- Better knowledge is required "of the occurrences of gypsum beds and veins along both (Kaliser's emphasis) the dam and dike alignments. Local deformation, by intrusion or collapse mechanisms, must be known."