Why no one should freak out about the giant crack that opened in the Mexico desert

(Screenshot via Facebook video from Latinos Post)

MEXICO CITY — On the issue of the huge gaping chasm that opened in the Mexican desert earlier this month, scientists have assured us this does not herald the end of days.

The chair of the geology department at the University of Sonora, in the northern Mexican state where this “topographic accident” emerged, said that the fissure was likely caused by sucking out groundwater for irrigation to the point the surface collapsed.

“This is no cause for alarm,” Inocente Guadalupe Espinoza Maldonado said. “These are normal manifestations of the destabilization of the ground.”

After photos and videos of the large maw — more than 3,300 feet long and 25 feet deep —circulated on the Internet, some speculated that an earthquake was the culprit. Espinoza found this unlikely: “If this was a seismic zone, then maybe we should be on alert, but this is an area of relatively low seismic activity. It’s due to extraction of water.”

Watch the aerial footage below:

The crack is located on the outskirts of Hermosillo. Cotton used to be a common crop in this region, Espinoza said, but the government has imposed some restrictions on agriculture as a result of saltwater intrusion from the nearby Gulf of California. In the area that collapsed, there is still large-scale agriculture, he said.

No businesses were damaged or people injured when the crevice sprung open overnight. Mexican newspapers reported that it did prevent some farmers from getting to work.

Gabriela Martinez contributed to this report.

Joshua Partlow is The Post’s bureau chief in Mexico. He has served previously as the bureau chief in Kabul and as a correspondent in Brazil and Iraq.



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Rick Noack · August 26, 2014