Saturday, June 19, 2010

STICKS AND STONES (the stone part)

Paramount Pictures 1965 film Crack In The World tells the story of a scientist who sets off an atomic bomb at the center of the Earth and accidentally generates a crack which threatens to split our planet in two. Fortunately the crack turns back on itself, only cutting off a large chunk of crust that is blown into space and becomes a second moon.

Well sometimes employees working in the Quarry Visitor Center thought they were living that film. Building instability bent and cracked walls and occasionally resulted in a loud metallic BOING noise that sent us scurrying to find the source of the sound (with no success). Most ominously was the ever increasing bulging of the floor for the entire length of the administrative wing which housed the lab, offices, physical plant, and bookstore.

The bulge was the result of a crack, which started out hair thin but increased in length, grew to an inch in width, and eventually developed a vertical uplift of close to 2 inches along one side. You could follow it from the back end of the building eastward through the rest of the facility and then out into the parking lot.

With the removal of the carpeting the crack has finally been revealed in all its splendor and horror. This magnificent chasm came about without the use of any atomic weapons, just some bentonitic mudstone and water. With the administrative wing slated for removal and not being replaced, this crack should not be a problem in the new Quarry Visitor Center. Dinosaur’s own Crack In The World will eventually become just another bit of oral history about the Monument. And maybe the subject of a poorly done original movie on the SyFy Channel.

Photos courtesy of Dinosaur National Monument.

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