Rockfallville

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A newly released state geologist report defining Rockville’s rockfall hazards puts half my house in the High Danger Zone and half in the No Danger Zone, meaning, I suppose, I can spend half the night sleeping in peace and half lying awake contemplating my home’s current market value. Or, since the line puts the kitchen and office in the Danger Zone, perhaps it means I can sleep soundly, but cooking or working is out of the question, which, come to think of it, seems small price to pay for my personal safety.

my house
Note location of my house marked by pink rectangle on right bottom edge of the Danger Zone! (click to enlarge)

While the 2001 rockfall nearly killed our friend Jack, the 2002 boulder landed on the highway, and the 2007 fall destroyed a newly built fence–in southern Utah, hardly worth sniffing at–the 2010 rockfall got our attention–anomaly it seemed at the time. That rockfall hit the house across the street from mine, destroyed four outbuildings, an SUV, a full-size pickup, and somehow managed to miss the barn in which my horses stood, though the barn was directly below the fall. The horses spent the next three weeks with their butts pressed against the highway fence staring at the cliff. To this day, Mr. Baby will not willingly pass a sandstone boulder no matter how many times I reassure him it will not jump up and get him. He has never forgotten. Neither have the two woman living in the house at the time. Below are images of the 2010 Rockfall I took when I walked across the street that morning to feed the horses. Click on the image to enlarge and read caption.

What follows is the Geologist’s Report in it’s entirety, including a photo taken by a passing motorist of the redrock fog I described in my 2013 Solstice Letter and tribute to Maureen and Jeff (to be posted on this blog soon) which I did not have the presence of mind to take myself.

redrock fog
Inside, the darkness turned red and particulate, eerie and sunless. It was neither an inversion-choked chimney nor smoldering grass, not winter’s condensed breath nor the mark of a dust devil’s passing. It was something I’d seen only once or twice and never from within—pulverized redrock suspended mid-fall—buoyed only by still air’s impassive resistance, afloat on its own surprise.
Dust cloud from the December 12, 2013 Rockfall. The motorist, Jack Seegmiller, who photographed the event, estimated the rockfall’s duration as 10 seconds or less. Photo from the report below.

 

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Click to view report

Next Posts

  • Winter Solstice 2013
    A tribute to our friends Maureen Morris and Jeff Elsey killed in the Rockville rockfall
  • “Yes, Ma’am, the Trails are Safe, but I Can’t Guarantee the Geology”
    As Trail Crew Foreman Dan Blackwell once said to a Grand Canyon hiker who stopped to inquire. What does Rockville’s new Rockfall Hazard Report mean to those living In The Zone? And, after Rockville’s fatal rockfall and Washington’s fatal mudslide, one has to wonder what’s going on. The New York Times’ Timothy Egan wonders too.