Large mudslide appears on Sleeping Beauty

  • May. 1, 2012 4:00 p.m.

A large debris slide appeared on the snow-covered slope of Sleeping Beauty mountain earlier this week, clearly visible from Queen Charlotte. The slide is not unusual for that location, said Alvin Cober, ecosystems biologist at the Ministry of Forests office in Queen Charlotte, and it’s not unexpected after the cold winter we experienced. However, it’s the first time he’s seen a slide that’s so visible on Sleeping Beauty. The mud and debris tracks show up clearly against the snow that is still covering the mountain. The area of the slide is called a talus slope, Mr. Cober said. Rocks are constantly breaking away and tumbling down the rock face. The slide area is not near the Sleeping Beauty hiking trail. “Normally that area would be scaling rock all the time,” he said. “It’s all part of natural geomorphology.” The freezing and thawing cycle plays a role. During cold spells, water freezes in tiny cracks in the rock, gradually expanding and leading to larger cracks, and eventually leading to massive rock tumbles, he said. Mr. Cober also pointed to another possible cause: a small earthquake that occurred just before noon on Saturday (April 28). The quake measured 4.1 and was located just off the west coast of Graham Island; it was felt by some islanders. There is a chance the shaking could have triggered the landslide, he said.