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Rated: E · Essay · Nature · #2262732
So - A hover craft in a landslide?

A stray comment from a friend online about the USGS volcanic team led me to this information. When we worked at a motel in Gardiner, MT, near Yellowstone, we often had workers from USGS come to stay with us. They were always an interesting group. I enjoyed picking their brains about what they were investigating and when they thought the big caldera in Yellowstone was going to erupt. I never got an good answer. Go figure.

Anyway, this is interesting information. I especially like the idea of a hovercraft-like action being caused by CO2 gas in a landslide. What a fun premise for a SciFi story was my first thought. Gonna have to put that idea in my file. Check out the link for the full story.

lamprophyre diatreme
a volcanic plug that formed when magma was forced through flat-lying sedimentary rock) associated with Absaroka volcanic activity.

The diatreme emplacement triggered a catastrophic landslide, traveling at >100 m/sec.

Heart Mountain Detachment (HMD)
At least 3,500 km2 of land slid during the HMD, which is an area larger than the size of Rhode Island! This enormous block of land lay east of the present-day Yellowstone National Park boundary.

How could such an enormous block of land move along a slope that was angled at only ~2 degrees
It is also theorized that the landslide was able to quickly move a great distance across a 2-degree slope because CO2 was rapidly generated as the carbonate rocks slid past each other. This gas layer lifted the upper portion of the landslide and allowed it to move with minimal friction, like a hovercraft. Much of the colossal slide movement may have happened within minutes. It is difficult to comprehend the power and scale of such an event!

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