Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Natural arch collapse

There are photographs before and after the collapse of Wall Arch (above) on August 8, 2008, but - contrary to popular belief - no one caught the rare event on videotape. I was unable to confirm this on Snopes.com, but the press release from the National Park Service states that no one reported witnessing the overnight collapse. Wall Arch was one of the most accessible of the 2,000 arches in Arches National Park in Moab, Utah, and ranked 12th in size (with an opening 71' x 33.5'). The debris from the collapse, and continued rock falls, caused the rangers to close part of the trail temporarily. "The middle of the arch just collapsed under its own weight.," said Chief Ranger Denny Ziemann. Robert Iberia of the Moab Area Travel Council called it "geology in action. You hate to see those go down. But it happens. It's a natural phenomenon." "They all let go after a while," added park official Paul Henderson. A long while. The same forces of wind and water erosion that carved the arches 100 million years ago will eventually bring them all down. As dramatic as they are, collapses are part of the natural cycle, explained Tim Connors of the NPS Geologic Resources Division, who said, "It just reminds us that geology is a very dynamic science. and that nothing lasts forever."
If you would like to look at some galleries of arch images, there are 2 websites devoted to this very photogenic geologic formation. Archmillennium.net is geared toward those who want to do some canyoneering and offers a look at some of the 162 arches the author has traversed from above and below. Another resource is the Natural Arch and Bridge Society, which supports the study, appreciation, and preservation of natural arches and bridges; offers a robust photo and video section; and assisted one of its members in compiling the World Arch Database.

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