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Utah Avalanche Was Largest in Modern History

Image: The Kennecott Utah Copper Bingham Canyon Mine after a landslide in Bingham Canyon, Utah.
The Kennecott Utah Copper Bingham Canyon Mine rockslide in April 2013 sent 165 million tons of debris into a nearly mile-deep pit where it cracked bedrock and triggered unprecedented earthquakes. Ravell Call / The Deseret News via AP file

The avalanche near Salt Lake City last year that carried enough rock, dirt and debris to bury New York's Central Park under 66 feet of rubble was North America's largest such disaster in modern history, according to University of Utah scientists.

The April 2013 rockslide sent 165 million tons of debris into a nearly mile-deep pit where it cracked bedrock and triggered unprecedented earthquakes, the researchers said in a newly published study.

The debris slides falling as fast as 100 mph crashed to earth with such force that they registered as magnitude-5 earthquakes and then triggered 16 smaller quakes where the bedrock cracked, said Jeff Moore, assistant professor of geology and geophysics.

-- The Associated Press