Massive Landslide Spotted In Glacier Bay National Park In Southeast Alaska

First Posted: Jul 04, 2016 04:30 AM EDT

A 4,000-foot-high mountainside collapsed northwest of Juneau in Glacier Bay National Park in Southeast of Alaska on Tuesday morning. This causes a massive landslide that smeared debris and produced a dust cloud for miles across Lamplugh Glacier.

Colin Stark, a geophysicist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Erath Observatory in New York said that the mountains in are mostly young, unstable and eroding quickly. He further said that it rivals anything they had in several years and described it as exceptionally large as noted by ADN.

Stark and his team at Columbia found the landslide in seismic recordings. The landslide started at 8:21 A.M. Tuesday when the rock face fell down on a high, steep slope. In just a minute, the debris accelerated down the mountain. It hit the ice on Lamplugh Glacier and pushing up snow and ice as it continued across the glacier, according to Stark. He estimated it to be about 130 million tons, which Stark said it's a lot of SUVs. That is approximately 60 million medium-size SUVs falling down the mountainside.

According to Columbia University, the large landslides often go unnoticed in isolated areas. On the other hand, they shake the earth enough to produce the seismic wave. This has caught the attention of the researchers.

The causes of the giant landslides are not that clear. Stark said in his Alaska research, he noticed that there tend to be more in warmer months, which signifies meltwater. He further said that putting this in geological context is really imperative. He added that these walls are failing by the very nature of the process.

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