The US Army Corps of Engineers is building a 15m high concrete dam in Los Alamos National Laboratory’s (LANL) Pajarito Canyon to protect portions of the laboratory and the nearby town of White Rock from flooding.

A drilling crew has begun studying the suitability of the canyon’s volcanic ash bedrock for anchoring the dam, which will stretch 61m across the canyon. The Laboratory has asked for the Corps’ assistance due to concern over the possibility of flooding as rain runs off slopes recently denuded by the Cerro Grande fire.

The US Army Corps of engineers has concluded that the dam is the cheapest, best flood insurance for the homes a few miles downstream in White Rock.