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A 1-Minute 'Rock Avalanche' 4,800 Years Ago Was Instrumental In Forming Utah's Zion National Park

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Published on May 28, 2016

A massive landslide that occurred 4,800 years ago resulted in the creation of the flat floor at Utah's Zion National Park, according to a new study by the University of Utah. A massive landslide that occurred 4,800 years ago resulted in the creation of Zion National Park's flat floor, according to a new study by the University of Utah. The so-called "rock avalanche" dammed the adjacent Virgin River and created a lake that lasted for around 700 years. According to a summary of the findings, "Computer simulations matched known landslide deposits and show the huge slide rushed southeast across Zion Canyon in about 20 seconds, with an average speed of 112 mph and a peak speed of 180 to 200 mph." In all, it's estimated the entire rocky event took around just one minute to complete. Jeff Moore, the study’s senior author and an assistant professor at the university, said, “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.”

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