Denali Park Landslide Mostly Cleared

The landslide that came down on the road into Denali National Park last week has been largely cleared.

The slide covered a 200-foot stretch of the road near mile 37 in rock, mud and vegetation up to 35 feet deep.

Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.
Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Park Service spokeswoman Maureen Gualtieri says bulldozers finished working the site Monday night.

“All of the debris was moved out of the park roadway, so that will give us a good start in the spring,” Gualtieri said. “Definitely need to do some more debris removal and check for stability, but for now, I think most of the heavy lifting has been done for this fall.”

Gualtieri says the job was completed just as the temperature began to drop, threatening to freeze up the slide debris.

Park geologist Denny Capps is investigating the slide. Capps says a 3-4 meter thick matt of permafrost appears to have slid on an underlying layer of clay, movement that may have resulted from warming.

“We do not know at this point that this is related to climate change,” Capps said. “However, it is consistent permafrost degradation that we’ve seen in other areas in the region.”

Capps says aerial photos of the slide area show cracks in the slope that may have allowed water to seep in and destabilize the soil.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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