Saturday, July 3, 2010


“The Quarry Visitor Center Rift Valley” “The Mole People’s elevator shaft” “That $@%!**^%ing crack” The large crack running nearly the entire length of the floor of the QVC administrative wing went under many monikers. Like some extensional regime snake it wove its way across floors, under walls, through sidewalks, and well out into the parking lot. On one side of the crack, the floor was lifted up nearly two inches. On the other side of the crack the floor sloped six inches over a distance of eight feet. After the QVC was evacuated, the crack continued to grow and the vertical displacement increased. Segments that were just thin cracks a few years ago were now much wider and floors were sloping to greater and greater degrees.

Of course, the crack was only a manifestation of the geological phenomenon beneath it. The water loving bentonitic mudstones had not been deeply excavated before the QVC was built and water leaks and other sources of water caused the bentonite to expand tremendously and then shrink as it dried out. Eventually the entire southern half of the administrative wing was lifted up, creating the infamous sloping floors of the park library, paleo office, preparation lab, and furnace room. Some of my earlier posts show photos of this most unusual “natural wonder”.

A great deal of time and money was spent over the decades mitigating the effects of the catastrophic benonite and water mix. Unfortunately these were mostly cosmetic because fixing the problem of the bentonite under the entire floor system was well nigh impossible. Until now.

I am happy to announce that we have finally secured a way by which the problems of the crack in the world have been finally and irrevocably solved.

The steps are
1. Remove roof of administrative wing.
2. Cut away and remove I-beams forming roof support for administrative wing.
3. Tear down the walls of administrative wing.
4. Tear up concrete floor of administrative wing.
5. Haul everything away.
6. Level surface.
7. Do not replace administrative wing.

To use the parlance of the Vietnam War, “We had to destroy this floor in order to save it.”

Photos courtesy of Dinosaur National Monument.

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