Beyond Newhall Pass

Road buckles mysteriously in Santa Clarita

vazquez-road-slide.jpgPhoto from The Signal.

A slow-moving landslide that is pushing up and folding the roadway has closed Vasquez Canyon Road in the Santa Clarita area, and it sounds like it may be closed for awhile. “We don’t know exactly what’s causing it,” the CHP's Eric Preissman told the Signal newspaper on Thursday. “Right now, it’s just a weird thing. Instead of the road buckling down, it’s buckling up."

By late afternoon, after county engineers, road crews and utility repairmen examined the earth, the pavement and lopsided poles, CHP officers announced the road would be closed “a long time” and erected three layers of barriers to prohibit access to the road.

Los Angeles County Public Works officials are officially calling the incident “soil movement.” Unofficially, they’re calling it a slow-moving landslide.

The road that connects Bouquet Canyon Road in Saugus with Sierra Highway in Canyon Country was closed shortly before 11:30 a.m. No reports came in of injuries related to the road condition….Some utility poles owned and maintained by Southern California Edison had been dislodged from the ground and were leaning, Preissman said.

Time to call on the experts.

Vincent Devlahovich, professor of geology at College of the Canyons, called Thursday’s soil movement a “massive wasting event.”

“Probably what happened was some sort of water event saturated the rock,” he said. “That stuff (rock) is so permeable it’s like a big sponge,” said Devlahovich, who was asked by The Signal to comment on the bizarre geologic event. “The contained water acts like a lubricant, allowing the layers above it to move along a curved surface.

“We call this a slump event, or a mass wasting event specifically ... where the upper layers move together, collectively, on a curved surface,” he said, adding that he is familiar with the geology of the area though he didn’t visit the site Thursday.

* Friday morning update: KTLA story

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