The epic rock avalanche is thought to have occurred 4800 years ago and traveled to speeds of up to 180 mph resulting in the formation of the Zion National Park.
A new geological study has shown that Zion National Park was created during a dramatic landslide that swept the landscape 4800 years ago.
Researchers at the University of Utah revealed through a study that an epic rock avalanche occurred with speeds of up to 180 mph forming the park and creating a lake that stayed for 700 years before drying up and forming the flat valley floor according to a Science Daily report.
Jeff Moore, the new study’s senior author and an assistant professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah, describes the magnitude of the landslide that led to nearly 10 billion cubic feet of Kayentena and Navajo sandstone to fall to the bottom.
“The ancient Zion landslide would cover New York City’s Central Park with 275 feet of debris and you would need 90 times the volume of concrete in Hoover Dam to recreate the mountainside that failed.”
Together with collected data, the researchers used computer simulations to show the avalanche occurred southeast of the Zion Valley and happened rapidly – most likely in 20 seconds. Despite its worrying effects if it was to happen today, the team believe that it’s unlikely a similar event would happen again anytime soon but shows just how something so beautiful was created out of devastation.
“This catastrophic landslide of massive proportions had two effects,” he says. “One was constructive – creating paradise through cataclysm. More than 3.6 million people last year enjoyed the flat and tranquil valley floor of Zion Canyon, which owes its existence to this landslide. The other aspect is the extreme hazard that a similar event would pose if it happened today.”
The study was published in the journal GSA Today.