What's Up With This Big Crack In Wyoming?

Unless you're visiting the Grand Canyon, it isn't normal to come across a giant crevice in the earth, which is why some Wyoming residents were shocked to discover a huge crack in the ground. In a rural area in northern Wyoming, a giant gash suddenly appeared in the earth that's estimated to be 750 yards long and 50 yards wide — that's the size of about six football fields lined up in a row. So, what's up with this big crack in Wyoming?

Hunting guides looking for antelope discovered the crack about 40 miles south of Ten Sleep, Wyoming, in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains. Geologists believe it was caused by a landslide that likely happened over the course of one or two weeks. Chamois Andersen with the Wyoming State Geological Survey told CBS Denver: "It appears this may be due to groundwater [that] has created weakness in what is already a saturated hillside. Further saturation like a wet spring and summer leads to more weakness, then the hillside shifted and caused a landslide with an associated large crack." In other words, the dirt got wet and started sliding. Because it's in such a rural area, it isn't a threat to anyone, but Andersen said people should stay away from the crevice because it's still an active landslide and could continue moving.

The weakening of the earth by water, otherwise known as erosion, is a common cause of landslides, according to National Geographic, but landslides can vary in how quickly they move from many meters a second to a just few centimeters a year. Since it's estimated that Wyoming's crack formed over a few weeks, the landslide must have moved relatively quickly.

Wyoming state geologist Tom Drean told 9News that landslides like this one are fairly common in Wyoming, but usually on a much smaller scale and usually in the spring, not the fall. "It certainly shows the power of the Earth," Drean told 9News.

The sheer size of the crevice is insane and makes its sudden appearance all the more baffling. Sy Gilliland, the owner of SNS Outfitter & Guides, the hunting group that found the bizarre crack, told 9News: "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."

Just from photos, the crack looks enormous, and people that have seen it in person have been in awe. Randy Becker, a hunter who came across the crack, told CBS Denver: "I was stunned. The magnitude of this shift in Earth is dramatic. It blows you away to see it."

Images: CBS Denver (1)