View Full Version : Quicksand
04-03-2005, 03:02 PM
Here is another thing. This shows up is stories and movies. I'm familiar with the theory (water or gas bubbling up through sand particles causing them to separate losely), know what to do (swim - breast stroke preferred) but in all the years and places I have wandered around have never actually encountered quicksand. Water, mud, yes, but never anything that acted as I am told quicksand acts.
The question is, has anyone ever actually encountered this? Someone commented a while back that between us we have millions of hours from the seaside to the mountaintops and everything between, so I figure if this stiff actually exists someone here must have encountered it at some time.
Or is this just one of those myths coming from who knows where?
04-03-2005, 03:16 PM
They did a thing on Mythbusters about this. If I remember correctly, they busted the myth, and they came to the conclusion that quicksand actually makes you more bouyant, so it won't suck you down. Instead you'll actually end up floating on top of it, but it is difficult to move in. They did say that people have died in quicksand, but it was because of the elements: if the water you're floating in dries while you're still stuck, it becomes increasingly more difficult to get out of. Then you can die from exposure, thirst, passing bear gnawing your face off, etc.
I've never encountered it, but I thought it was a cool episode. Don't know if their experiments bust the entire possibility that there is some mysterious sinking sand out there.
04-03-2005, 05:34 PM
Ralph,It does exist,just not like you see it in the old Tarzan movies /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif In Lily Park,on the Yampa River in NW Co.,I found 2 yerlin steers that were entrusted to my care mired in it.Both dead,both still exposed to the surface and visible.I walked out on the stuff to drag 'em out.Sunk to my ankles while getting a rope on 'em.Didn't get sucked under, but the more you move on it the wetter it gets and the deeper you sink.A saddle horse couldn't pull one even a couple feet.Had to get the truck to yank on 'em.Only in 4wd did they budge.If I didn't have to prove my deads,I would of left 'em and seen if they ever completely dissapeared.Don
04-03-2005, 07:42 PM
What is even worse are the "Honey holes" in Maine. In some tidal areas under the surface of the marshy land gets eaten away. You step on to the weak surface and in you go. Under mud and water (mostly water). It's Bye bye dirt naptime and no one finds you.
Why the locals call them honey holes is beyond me. I mean that name sounds like something good?
04-03-2005, 08:09 PM
WW, that sounds like some of the area around the geyser basins in Yellowstone. A thin crust that one suddenly plunges through. Hopefully you're not over hot water when you do so.
04-03-2005, 08:33 PM
"So this dude I know went out looking for honey one day...I wonder what happened to the guy?"
04-03-2005, 08:55 PM
Ive walked through mud that tore my boots off... but it never got deeper than my knees.
It's not considered "quicksand", but the glacier silt beds along some of our rivers does a pretty good imitation. You don't "sink" but you can SURE get stuck. The best known area in AK is probably Turnigan Arm, just south of Anchorage. A few people have gotten caught on the silt flats and then drowned when the tide rolled back in (up to 28' of tidal fluctuation). Not sure if it makes any diff if you sink & sufficate or the water rolls over your head & you drown.
04-03-2005, 11:08 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Originally posted by Woods Walker:
Under mud and water (mostly water). It's Bye bye dirt naptime and no one finds you.</div></div>I'm sorry for being a little slow on the uptake here "WW", but is the main reason for death because the victim is unable to climb out of the "honey hole"? (Something similar to falling through ice?)
(I suspect the name was either created by a land developer or knowing how folks from Maine like to get to the point and don't like long talks, "honey holes" just might have been an early way of executing a divorse! /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/laugh.gif )
04-03-2005, 11:43 PM
In fact, as this picture shows, some old timers still think the "honey hole" method is the best! /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/laugh.gif
04-04-2005, 03:46 AM
I've been in sticky mud, and the honey hole/sinkhole is certainly a possibility. I've been to Yellowstone a couple of times and there are always areas roped off that have been undercut.
Huntsman, what you describe is probably closest to the myth, expecially the part about more disturbance yielding more water. In that case, I think the swimming method would work for getting yourself out. Unfortunately, I doubt teaching your steers to do the breast-stroke would be practical.
Whether quicksand or plain old mud, thrashing about makes the situation worse. I grew up living across from a pond with muddy banks, and pulled a few kids out who had mired themselves. I always told the kids to stop if they started to get mired and think the problem through before making things worse.
I have been in quicksand (http://science.howstuffworks.com/quicksand.htm) but it is not like what you see in the movies. Quicksand is basically oversaturated soil - sand or silt floating on water - and is usually found on riverbanks, lakeshores and in marshes. The stuff Gary mentions may well be quicksand as silt is easier to liquify than sand. The deeper stuff can be a bugger but I think the sinkholes mentioned by Anthracitic and Woods Walker present more of a danger.
04-04-2005, 09:10 AM
Those Maine and Alaskan tidal mudtraps sound nasty to me. My only experience with "quicksand" has been on the high desert of Eastern Oregon in alkali flats. Some will hold your weight and others will just dramatically drop out from underneath a horse or cow. It is almost as if the alkaline salt that has leached to the surface over time makes the soil act like a sponge. (If anyone has a more accurate answer I'd love to know.) Seems to be the luck of the draw on which alkali flat will hold you and which will be a sinker. For the most part they all look dry and dusty as can be on the surface.
About the only remedy is slow and steady (ex)traction from a LONG stout rope. If you feel your horse going down, STAY ON and give the horse his head until you've safely made it to solid ground or when he's stopped thrashing. You do not want to step off (thinking) he'll sink less and get caught under the panicking animal that may attempt to use you as solid footing (much like a drowning victim). Self-extractions are usually fast, powerful and extremely violent. Due to this, your horse should be watched for problems with strained or pulled muscles, etc.
Usually when a cow goes missing they can be found (sometimes still alive) floundering in a bog with her rear-end eaten out by coyotes. The only humane thing to do at that point is give them a knock to the head.
04-04-2005, 10:21 AM
Quicksand is actually quite prevalent in the canyon country of Southern Utah. It occurs alongside the streams in the canyon bottoms and can occur under the surface of the water as well. Most quicksand "pools" are a foot or so in depth but I have seen quicksand deeper than six feet. Isn't one of the reasons we all venture forth is to overcome risks? We do our best to minimize them, on the other hand if they didn't exist we'd be just as happy watching OLN with a beer in hand.
04-04-2005, 06:27 PM
No with the Tital honey hole you just fall into cold mudy water that is above your head. Nonthing to grab on to but mud. What happens is that the person then just sinks to the bottom is never seen again. Sounds like bad news to me! Much like falling though ice into deep water.
09-11-2007, 05:05 PM
I've ran into the riverside variety while on a canoe/fishing trip after some big rains this spring. I walked onto what appeared to be a slightly moist sandbar. I was surprised to find myself knee deep in abrasive goo that was trying to swallow my shoes. I managed to escape with only mild embarassment and valuable lesson as the by-product.
I've encountered "quicksand" many times over they years with properties similar to Shu's link but never in the movie sense that Ralph describes. Depth has been variable and the mass is indeed usually being fed by upwelling ground water. If the suspended particles have a strong component of organics and are of low density, you may be more dense and sink, though that is apparently unusual. Even if the silt/sand has typical quartz-feldspar densities, you should eventually float but can sink to your chest or neck and get real stuck. Sometimes the mix is thixotropic:
So the more you move the more fluid the mass becomes. Once you quit moving, it consolidates around you. Sticky clays can also make movement exhausting. Not good.
Most of the time I've only gone to my knees but once went more than waist deep and had to be pulled out. If it is deeper than your head you could obviously have serious problems, though I've never known anyone to drown that way. Places where I've encountered similar issues have included riverbanks in the southwest US, mud flats in coastal areas and muskeg in AK and Yukon.
09-11-2007, 11:44 PM
I live in CT and there is a brook running through our property. There is also a large swampy area.
While fishing along the brook years ago I stepped on what I thought was dry land near the brook and was stuck in mud up to my armpits. Not really quicksand though.
The swamp is to mucky to take a tractor in except when it's frozen. One winter we cut through the mud and ice making holes with an old chainsaw to put in a fence. We had old dock pillings we put in with a bucket loader. Some went as far as 15' into the mud. Guess I was lucky I stopped at my armpits.
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