A huge and mysterious gash as long as seven football fields suddenly opened up in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming, prompting many in the area to wonder:

Is the long-dormant super volcano beneath Yellowstone National Park about to blow?

Is this a precursor to the Big One?

Have we been invaded by Graboids? (The reptilian subterranean carnivores that dined on Nevada desert residents in the movie “Tremors” and its sequels.)

A big crack was first discovered in mid-October by hunters on the Orchard cattle ranch, about 40 miles south of Ten Sleep, Wyo.

On Saturday, a Denver television station reported the hole was 600 yards long.

On Monday, ranch rangeland technician Catherine Orchard said it was closer to 750 yards long.

From the ground, the massive crevasse looks like a waterfall with no water.

From the sky, it is shaped like a python that swallowed a pig and is 300 yards wide at one point.

“They’re always talking about Yellowstone blowing,” said Ten Sleep’s clerk and treasurer, Lori Hughes, who dismissed chatter about the Big One.

The Wyoming Geological Survey attributed the gash to a more mundane geological occurrence – a landslide.

In a Facebook post, the agency said the slide may have been “due to groundwater creating weakness in an unstable hillside.”

The soft shale that forms the topsoil in this region was soaked in May by an extra inch of rainfall. Underneath thousands of years of shale is the continental plate.

When the shale falls away, underground streams and rock formations are slowly revealed. In this case, the natural geologic process took place far more quickly and visibly.

The agency noted the potential danger of landslide sites to the curious public: Weakened soil can lead to a catastrophic slope failure, sending onlookers tumbling into the hole.

The agency had not addressed the possibility of Graboids.


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