The news first appeared on the Facebook page of the SNS Outfitters and Guides. Since then, it was picked up by several mystery mongering sites that declared it was “apocalyptic” (as is everything unusual) or related to the Yellowstone caldera, a supervolcano that they revel in announcing is going to blow its top every other month.
Well, it’s neither. The earth is not falling apart. Chill!
The earth is dynamic. It moves. This movement of soil and rock is not unusual and, though it looks huge, it’s small on a geologic scale.
GrindTV has more photos. Though, the photos show people really close to the edges. This is NOT recommended since the ground is unstable. This would be significantly more dangerous if it was raining since erosion of this feature is going on all the time, water will accelerate it.
It’s speculated that water caused it. Underground water. According to the local Powell Tribune, geologists from the Wyoming Geological Survey think this slumping of the land, where it pulled apart, could have been caused by a subsurface weakness that failed due to moisture such as from a groundwater source. Often geologic hazards exist for years in a precarious state needing just some small trigger to let them loose whereby they manifest on the surface and cause damage. In other areas of the US, layers of clay either swell or shrink depending on the water input causing slides. Obviously, heavy rains are the most obvious triggers for landslides. This particular slide looks odd because it separated but did not “fall”.
The state geologists can’t get data on this site because it’s private land and they will need permission to study it. They would be able to measure the current surface and determine from previous maps in which direction and how much the land moved en masse.
But, we can be sure that this has no bearing on the state of a Yellowstone eruption. Don’t get your science news from sites written by amateurs with agendas looking for ad revenue. Just don’t. And not everything signals the APOCALYPSE!
This jagged gash in Wyoming will heal itself in a few years leaving a hummocky surface where vegetation will return.
The present is the key to the past. Landslide areas are often prone to slide again, maybe not in our lifetime but in geologic time. Nothing is stable, things change. But, don’t fret, hardly anyone ever falls in the cracks.