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Utah avalanche was largest in modern history



SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The avalanche near Salt Lake City last year that carried enough rock, dirt and debris to bury New York's Central Park under 66 feet of rubble was North America's largest such disaster in modern history, according to University of Utah scientists.

The April 2013 rockslide sent 165 million tons of debris into a nearly mile-deep pit where it cracked bedrock and triggered unprecedented earthquakes, the researchers said in a newly published study.

"We don't know of any case until now where landslides have been shown to trigger earthquakes," said Jeff Moore, assistant professor of geology and geophysics.

There were no injuries or deaths as the slide temporarily shut down a copper mine, burying 14 giant haul trucks and leading to a series of layoffs and buyouts at Kennecott Utah Copper Corp.

"It was a creeping movement that had been developing over many months along an old fault line," Moore said Tuesday. Kennecott had been monitoring the area and evacuated workers ahead of the danger, he said.

The disaster didn't involve a volcanic explosion and was actually a pair of related slides about 90 minutes apart, said Moore, who co-authored the study together with Kris Pankow, associate director of the university's seismograph stations.

The peer-reviewed research was published Monday in the Geological Society of America's magazine, GSA Today.

The debris slides falling as fast as 100 mph crashed to earth with such force that they registered as magnitude-5 earthquakes and then triggered 16 smaller quakes where the bedrock cracked, Moore said.

Mother Nature has put on bigger shows, the scientists noted.

The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington unleashed a landslide 57 times larger than Kennecott's.

Another slide about 8,000 years ago at the mouth of Zion Canyon in southern Utah was five times as large.

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karjoytulina January 12 2014 at 2:06 AM

WAKE UP CALL OR WHAT?

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wrascil January 08 2014 at 11:00 PM

that damn global warming again... what's next, freezing rain and lake effect snow in the north east?
or 80 degree days in hawaii

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jay love January 08 2014 at 10:49 PM

thats what they get for piling up the over-burden and debries right at the top of the canyon rim and continuing to stack it up there next to the edge until something had to give? wonder if they ever thought of pushing the pile backwards some so there is a space between the edge and the pile?

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rickmondale January 08 2014 at 7:03 PM

It is interesting to see the anti-mining reaction. Where were these people last night when the sun went down and they needed to turn on their lights?

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Katie Joyce January 08 2014 at 6:22 PM

Haven't WE done enough damage to planet Earth? It's time to wake up!

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marksmarr January 08 2014 at 6:13 PM

why not move the trucks? the insurance i suppose. nice

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fortyfloyd January 08 2014 at 6:00 PM

saved a lot of blasting powder

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JewelryByUlises@ January 08 2014 at 5:54 PM

Unless there was there was any politicians or kartrashians under it… next!

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djzacker January 08 2014 at 5:51 PM

When you mess with mother earth you have to accept the consequenses

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2 replies to djzacker's comment
moudsie January 08 2014 at 5:53 PM

People (GOPers) just don't get it -- or maybe it's started to make a dent in their so-called brains -- but it could be too late -- it's all about the almighty dollar--but if this planet freezes-floods, etc. what good is all that money?

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2 replies to moudsie's comment
Jim Anderson January 08 2014 at 9:53 PM

GOPees?? WHO made money from that fake film about global warming? Did you see the strofoam ice bergs? WHO makes money from carbon taxes? Look inward, YOU have a problem. WHO gets the money? Y O U!!! Ask Pilosi how SHE earned money with insider trading.... Ask George Soros how HE has made billions from YOUR side of the aisle while I support a family of a lady who murdered 3 people directly due to Mr. Obama... Walk in my shoes, YOU would learn a lot..

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jay love January 08 2014 at 10:53 PM

Me thinks you have been laping up too much Al Gore recently? there will be no horrible planetary disasters at least not in the coming few years of our lifetimes and if and when we see any they are likely to be mother nature doing her thing, no matter anything else we have done? up to the Libtards all modern use of materials would be banned, we would be back to living in caves reading by the light of a fire and having to scavenger hunt just to survive?

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emmett January 08 2014 at 7:52 PM

Yo mama is a cool-cat .

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arenadood January 08 2014 at 5:50 PM

Hope it did not wake up Rodan.

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