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Frozen landslide threatens to devour Dalton Highway {Blob approaching Alaska Pipeline}
Anchorage Daily News ^ | December 1, 2012 | KYLE HOPKINS

Posted on 12/03/2012 9:33:56 AM PST by thackney

A mysterious blob of frozen soil, rocks and trees is creeping toward the Dalton Highway, threatening to block the haul road that serves as a lifeline for Alaska's oil and gas industry. It could happen as soon as end of the decade.

University of Alaska Fairbanks researchers who have been studying the slow-moving landslide just south of the Brooks Range since 2008 say it is crawling closer to the highway every day. The scientists suspect climate change may have caused the 300-foot-wide finger of debris -- once thought to be motionless -- to gain speed as it slides toward the road.

"It's this giant moving mass and it's going to destroy anything in its way," said Rob Harper, a spokesman for the Alaska University Transportation Center.

The wave of frozen mud, snow and plants slowly spilled from the mountains within the past 5,000 years, researchers said. It is now within about 150 feet of the highway. Moving at a average rate of more than a centimeter a day, it could swamp the Dalton within five to 10 years, said Institute of Northern Engineering hydrologist Ronald Daanen.

"The sooner we come up with a viable solution, the better it is. There isn't a lot of time left," said Daanen, who will present information about the hazard at a worldwide meeting on geophysical sciences next week in San Francisco.

Transportation planners across the country are grappling with extreme weather such as floods, storms and unusual snowfall due to changing weather patterns. In the Alaska Arctic, the frozen debris encroaching on the Dalton Highway presents a new kind of puzzle.

As permafrost shrinks and summers grow longer in the southcentral Brooks Range, researchers wonder: How do you stop an accelerating, landslide-like ocean of mud and splintered trees from destroying one of the state...

(Excerpt) Read more at adn.com ...


TOPICS: News/Current Events; US: Alaska
KEYWORDS: energy; northslope; pipeline
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To: TigersEye

I suspect the solution will be creating a bridge in the road along with space for the pipeline.

As was mentioned in the article...


41 posted on 12/04/2012 1:47:49 PM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]


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