Huge Gash Appears in Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains

It is believed to be a slow-moving landslide.
Bighorn Mountains

Looking down a mountain pass in the Bighorn Mountains, whose foothills now boast "The Gash" (Photo by Mr Hicks46/Flickr)

A huge crack that appeared in the foothills of Wyoming's Bighorn Mountains may have been the result of an "apparent active landslide," according to the Wyoming Geological Survey.

Dubbed "The Gash," the crack is around 750 yards long and fifty yards wide, and sits on private land.

Seth Wittke, geological manager at the Geological Survey, described why the event might be occurring: “A lot of landslides are caused by subsurface lubrication by ground moisture or water and things like that, or in this case, a spring.”

Wittke also commented that the crack is a “fairly small event given the overall aspect of how big landslides can be.” According to Wittke, it could keep growing until there’s no more room for it to move.

The gash is not a canyon, which can take centuries to form, but instead is a crack with multiple tiered levels.

Hunters from SNS Outfitters & Guides found the crack about two weeks ago, although many think the gash started forming in late September.

“The crack appeared out of nowhere,” said SNS owner, Sy Gilliland.

SNS was the first to report on the crack by posting on Facebook. According to an engineer from Riverton, Wyo., who spoke to the group, the crack was formed after a wet spring dissolved the earth below a cap rock, causing the rock to slide out. The engineer estimated that it shifted 15 to 20 million yards of earth, according to SNS.

Whatever the cause, many have flocked to the site to see The Gash for themselves, commenting on how incredible it is to see the Earth change so dramatically in such a short period of time.