Mysterious gaping crack opens up in Wyoming's Bighorn Mountains

The huge crack that suddenly appeared in Wyoming has stirred curiosity, but there is a scientific explanation. 

Susie Neary/AP
A sheep grazes on US Forest Service land in the Bighorn Mountains in northern Wyoming on Aug. 22, 2015. A massive crack has opened up in the foothills of Bighorn Mountains.

Deep in the foothills of Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming, a dramatic giant crack has opened up in the ground.

Named "The Gash" by stunned onlookers, the huge maw, which some have described as  "a mini Grand Canyon," is estimated to measure 750 yards long by 50 yards wide.

First reported by hunting company SNS Outfitter & Guides on their Facebook page, the massive crack is said to be a geological event and nothing manmade.

According to SNS Outfitter & Guides the gaping hole, “appeared in the last two weeks on a ranch we hunt in the Bighorn Mountains. Everyone here is calling it ‘the gash.’ It’s a really incredible sight.”

Randy Becker, one of the hunters to see the crater, added, "An awesome example of how our earth is not as stable as you might think.

"Awesome forces at work here to move this much dirt!!”

SNA Outfitter & Guides shared findings from an engineer in Riverton, Wyoming who examined the area, in a follow up post.

"Apparently, a wet spring lubricated across a cap rock," the company wrote on social media. "Then, a small spring on either side caused the bottom to slide out. He estimated 15 to 20 million yards of movement."

While impressive, this gaping back-country sinkhole is nothing apocryphal, but rather geological. 

A Wyoming Geological Survey expert called it a “fairly small event given the overall aspect of how big landslides can be.”

"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," Wyoming Geological Survey’s manager of groundwater and geologic hazards and mapping, Seth Wittke, told Grind TV.

Wyoming Geological Survey’s public information specialist Chamois Andersen told the Powell Tribune "an early, wet spring and summer" may have also "had a lot to do with it."

"It is not uncommon to have slides like that," she said.

So, will The Gash keep growing?

“Yeah, as long as there’s room for it to move it could keep moving,” Wittke said.

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