Central Wyoming residents were stunned to discover a massive crack along a hillside in Lysite, WY. According to a report from USA Today, “The Crack” first appeared in September but has grown to over 600 yards in length and is even 100 feet deep in some areas.
The Crack was discovered by hunting guides who were out searching for antelope in the area near the town of Ten Sleep. The giant tear in the earth was reported by SNS Outfitter & Guides employees, but it wasn’t until they returned and posted their discovery on social media that the world began to take interest.
Geologists familiar with the occurrence say that water running down the hillside was responsible for the massive landslide. The flowing rain loosened the dirt on the side of the hill, and gravity pulled it down until it began to cave in on itself.
The Crack doesn’t pose much of a risk to people in the area. It occurred on state-owned land in the middle of a cattle ranch owned by private farmers. According to SNS owner Sy Gilliland, who brought members of the press to the site to view the crack on Saturday, exclaimed that it appeared as if the end of the hill had simply fallen off.
Wyoming had a particularly rainy spring season, which oversaturated the ground in many areas. Many people feared that the landslide was the result of oil or natural gas production, particularly the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, where pressurized water is pumped into shale formations to break them up and release the fossil fuels stored below. Despite these hunches, there are no oil and gas operations for at least 20 miles in any direction.
While the slide has been making headlines around the globe, Wyoming state geologist Tom Drean says that events like this happen all the time. Landslides in the state are usually smaller and occur in the spring, during the rainy season. Drean cited the states unique geology, including the Grand Teton mountains, and the famous geyser Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park.
“It certainly shows the power of the Earth. Wyoming is a geologic wonderland, and this is just an example of that wonderland,” Drean said.