Alaska landslide is the largest to date in North America
Alaska is now the home of the biggest landslide on North America.
Rocks and debris spread along 5.5 miles over a glacier in the Glacier Bay National Park, according to Reuters. The landslide occurred on the 11,924-foot Lituya Mountain.
The landslide had been unnoticed for weeks and the reason it was discovered is because it was creating its own seismic event because of its magnitude, said Lisa Sharman a Park Service ecologist at Glacier Bay. It is registering a magnitude of 3.4.
The landslide is not close to any areas used by park visitors or ships.
“You can’t see it from a boat or the bay. You’ve got to be up flying. And it’s not on a typical flying route,” said John Quinley, a spokesman for the Park Service’s Alaska headquarters. “It would have been pretty horrific if you’d been camped on the glacier.”
Experts are speculating the cause of the slide could be from part of the slope just giving way due to repeated freezing and thawing but the cause is still unknown at this time.
The amounts of materials that have fallen into the slide are still being estimated at this time.
The last landslide of significant magnitude in Alaska occurred above Lituya Bay in 1958. The landslide was so powerful that it created a wave that was hundreds of feet high and washed up 1,720 feet into a narrow inlet, according to msnbc.com.
Two fishermen on a fishing boat were killed and three other people on land were killed. There was one fishing boat that was able to ride out the massive wave.
“They looked below them and they could see the tops of the Sitka spruce trees way below,” said Marten Geertsema. “The other boat disappeared.”