Large-scale gravitational spreading and movement along fractures of steep-sided ridges in the mountainous areas of the western United States are characterized by linear fissures, trenches, and uphill-facing scarps on tops and sides of ridges. Spreading appears to take place by movement along disconnected planes and/or by slow plastic deformation of a rock mass. In some places, valleyward squeezing out of weak shales overlain by rigid rocks causes extensional fracturing and outward movement of the rigid layers, as illustrated by extension of two laccoliths overlying Mancos Shale, one at Dolores Peak and another at Crested Butte in western Colorado. Gravitational forces acting on a ridge of more homogeneous material causes tensional spreading of the ridge parallel to its long axis, for example in fractured granitic rock north of Mt. Massive in central Colorado, where a survey course has been established to monitor the movement. Recognition and understanding of these large-scale gravitational features and the mechanism that causes them are pertinent to site selection and design of engineering structures in high mountains. If fractures extend to considerable depth and if movement is continuing, engineering structures in valleys or tunnels through the spreading ridges could be damaged. ?? 1976 International Association of Engineering Geology.
Additional Publication Details
Gravitational spreading of steep-sided ridges ("sackung") in Western United States
Bulletin of the International Association of Engineering Geology