When two hunting guides noticed a small crack in the ground in a remote area of Wyoming last month, they didn’t think much of it.
But when they returned a few weeks later to the Bighorn Mountains, they were amazed by what the crack had become.
“There it was, this huge slide or crack or whatever it is,” Sy Gilliland, owner of SNS Outfitter & Guides, which offers guided elk, antelope, deer, moose and bear hunts, told KUSA.
“I don’t really think anyone knows what happened out there, all of a sudden it was just there. I think the reason it’s so fascinating is it’s so big. And it doesn’t make any sense, where it happened it’s just like the ground opened up, and the size of it is just huge.”
The “gash,” as it’s become known locally, measured about 50 yards wide and is as long as six football fields put together, the outfitter said on Facebook.
The “crack” quickly stoked fears of what was coming next, but SNS tried to calm people down.
“Since so many people have commented and asked questions, we wanted to post an update with a little more information. An engineer from Riverton, WY came out to shed a little light on this giant crack in the earth,” the company said on Facebook.
“Apparently, a wet spring lubricated across a cap rock. Then, a small spring on either side caused the bottom to slide out. He estimated 15 to 20 million yards of movement. By range finder, an estimate is 750 yards long and about 50 yards wide.”
The he Wyoming Geological Survey noted that the exact cause is unclear because they would need permission to study the area since it’s on private land.
“A number of things trigger them, moisture in the subsurface which causes weakness in soil or geology, and any process that would weaken the bedrock or unstabilize it somehow,” Seth Wittke of the survey told the Powell Tribune.
“There is some speculation on the web, and with our folks too, that an early, wet, spring and summer had a lot to do with it,” added public information specialist Chamois Andersen said. “It is not uncommon to have slides like that.”