Monday, July 5, 2010


Even though the Quarry Visitor Center was evacuated in the summer of 2006 there has been an on-going concern about the continuing structural degrading of the building. “Will the building collapse before it was replaced?” or “Might some of it collapse once demolition is underway and parts of the structure are removed?” are questions that have hung over our collective heads. Well so far, so good. We have removed the administrative wing that housed the library, offices, and prep lab. Our next major problem is the demolition of the turret or rotunda part of the building. One last look at the crack monitors on that part of the QVC is instructive and enlightening.

Recall that there are several spiral crack systems running around this cylindrical building. Two of them have crack monitors attached to them. In fact, it was alarming data on building movement from these two gauges that prompted, in part, the emergency closure and evacuation of the building. For this discussion on the photos I have traced the cracks with the monitors in red and numbered the gauges 1 and 2 in green. The segments of the building defined by these two cracks are labeled A (northern segment), B (central segment) and C (southern segment).

Let's look at the crack monitors. Remember that when installed, the red crosshair is located in the center of the crack and that subsequent growth of the crack will move the crosshairs off center. Monitor 1 shows that building segment B has moved to the right (southward) relative to segment A. Monitor 2 shows that building segment C has moved to the right (southward) relative to segment B.

Compiling all this into one photo, with blue arrows indicating the direction of movement, reveals that the building segments are moving apart from one another. Pretty scary stuff.

But matters are actually worse than they appear. There are many more spiral cracks running around the building than just the two we’ve been discussing. If we likewise mark some of those other cracks in red and the movement in blue, we see that the turret is really expanding southward, just like an accordion. By the way, did I happen to mention how I feel about accordion music? Although the Irish punk bands Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly use accordions with good effect, I must admit that generally I hate accordion music. I hate buildings that act like accordions even more.

Photos courtesy of Dinosaur National Monument.

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