A Huge Landslide Shaped Zion National Park 4800 Years Ago

Posted: May 27 2016, 8:52am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News


A Huge Landslide Shaped Zion National Park 4800 Years Ago
This view of Zion Canyon in Utah's Zion National Park shows the flat valley floor created when part of the peak named the Sentinel collapsed in a gigantic landslide, creating a dam and forming a lake, which eventually filled in with sediment. This photo is the cover image for the June issue of the Geological Society America's journal GSA Today, which is publishing the Utah study. Credit: Courtesy of Sarah Meiser
  • A Large Avalanche lies Behind the Creation of Zion National Park

Apparently a large avalanche lies behind the natural creation of Zion National Park in Utah.

A mountain’s side broke down 4800 years in the past in Utah. This led to a large landslide that could also be called an avalanche of rocks. As a result, the floor of what is today known as Zion National Park was created.

This avalanche dammed the Virgin River. A lake was formed 700 years ago due to these natural actions. This all came about due to a study that was conducted into the matter.

The dimensions and dynamics of the landslide were determined. The speed of the avalanche was possibly 180 mph. The study was published on May 26 and featured on the cover of the June issue of the Geological Society of America's journal GSA Today.

This landslide would have been capable of filling out New York City’s Central Park with 275 feet of flotsam and jetsam. Over 90 times the amount of concrete used to build Hoover Dam would be needed to remake the mountainside too.

This landslide would have buried Utah’s Liberty Park until it was half a mile beneath the surface of the earth. Such were the forces at work in those times.

A large part of the avalanche which occurred eons ago is now gone for all purposes. Computer simulations have been made and a model of the situation has served to elucidate what exactly occurred way back than.

Within a time span of 20 seconds flat, the avalanche rapidly seeded up from 150 mph to 200 mph and crashed into the barrier below. For half a minute more, the debris spread far and wide across the expanse of what is today Zion National Park.

There were two results of these series of actions. One was the making of a rock formation reminiscent of a calm and peaceful heaven of sorts.

Almost 3.6 million visitors enjoyed the scenic view of the place in 2015. Yet the other effect was that such a scenario would present a big hazard if it were to re-occur today.

There is still proof of avalanches and landslides in the region that have been blocked from further expression by the natural forces that exist. Yet such a catastrophe is hardly likely today.

Care is to be taken though. There have been smaller varieties of landslides occasionally in the history of the park. An avalanche is normally a failure of the rocks to resist the pressure to stampede on a physical level into an uncontrolled and massive rush down a mountainside. Such things have to be monitored by scientists to make sure that they do not occur when people are nearby.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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