May 25, 2022

"As the water level drops, formerly sunken boats are emerging in the mud, and other vehicles are getting newly stuck...."

"And on Monday the National Park Service shared several photos on Twitter that showed trucks stuck in the mud around the lake – a shoreline that looks deceivingly stable, but acts more like quicksand."

CNN reports — with photos showing the kind of truck that makes you think you can go where those other vehicles can't.

Interesting to see the old quicksand! threat making a comeback. From a 2010 Slate article:

For now, quicksand has all but evaporated from American entertainment—rejected even by the genre directors who once found it indispensable.... Quicksand once offered filmmakers a simple recipe for excitement: A pool of water, thickened with oatmeal, sprinkled over the top with wine corks. It was, in its purest form, a plot device unburdened by character, motivation, or story: My god, we're sinking! Will we escape this life-threatening situation before time runs out?... Time was, a director could sink a man in the desert and still win the Oscar for best picture. Today, that gimmick has been scorned in third-rate schlock.

Here's the comedian John Mulaney joking about his childhood concept that quicksand was going to be a big threat.

40 comments:

rcocean said...

Yes, its was a bummer to learn that you can stop sinking in quick sand by going horizontal and spreading your weight over the surface. It took all the fun out of it.

Carol said...

Quicksand was my favorite most scariest movie hazard. I recall an old English movie where the poor character wanted off into the moonlight, condemned or rejected somehow, only to sink into a convenient little pool of quicksand at the end of the movie. Gad that was creepy.

It is kind of a good metaphor, for being stuck in an awful job with lots of responsibilities.

Enigma said...

I think quicksand was replaced by the far more voyeuristic "trapped under ice" scene with the rise of CGI. Ice allows looking down at the victim's struggling face from above, looking up at the body to see the ice and lighting, and the cold water imposes a short time limit on the rescue or death.

Movie writers ran out of fresh ideas several decades ago. So we have the Marvel Universe and someone swooping in with laser eyes, or claws, or mind reading, or robot suits, or magnetics to get people out of sticky situations.

J Scott said...

This whole thing reminds me to not think too much about where the water from the tap comes from.

Lurker21 said...

Quicksand once offered filmmakers a simple recipe for excitement

My guess is that time was from Gilligan's Island and Johnny Quest to McGyver, though I wouldn't put it past Hope and Crosby, Abbott and Costello or Martin and Lewis to have worked a quicksand scene into their movies. And, of course, Tarzan.

John henry said...

Is the lake level dropping because

1) lake meade/hoover dam is releasing too much water? How much water is being released in 2022 compared to 2021 or 2011 or 2001 etc? More? Less?

2) same question about Lake Powell/Glen Canyon dam upstream? If it releases less water while Hoover Dam releases remain constant. Lake Meade will drop.

3) or there may actually be less rainfall filling the Colorado River. Has anyone here looked at historical rainfall/draughts records to see if this is an abnormal cycle?

I don't trust govt to tell us the truth on anything

I think a global famine, with scores or hundreds of millions of starvation deaths is in the works for 23 or 24.

It will be blamed on global whatsit.

A depleted lake meade makes a great image to encourage the dim that global whatsit is really, really, I MEAN REALLY, real.

And that we have A GLOBAL Emergency that justifies extralegal and extraconstitutional measures.


John Henry

John henry said...

I've been stuck in quicksand. It was solid enough to walk on even solid enough to ride a motorcycle across.

But that was because of a sun baked crust.

I almost lost my scoot when I broke through the crust. Luckily I was worth some buddies and we managed to pull it out.

John LGKTQ Henry

John henry said...

I've been stuck in quicksand. It was solid enough to walk on even solid enough to ride a motorcycle across.

But that was because of a sun baked crust.

I almost lost my scoot when I broke through the crust. Luckily I was worth some buddies and we managed to pull it out.

John LGKTQ Henry

Black Bellamy said...

"a shoreline that looks deceivingly stable, but acts more like quicksand."???

It acts like mud. That's what the pictures show, people drove into mud and got stuck.

Lol @CNN sensationalizes mud.

JAORE said...

"The climate change risk we face on the Colorado River basin right now has never been greater."

But let's not build any more actual features to capture or transport water where we need it most. And for gawd's sake don't approve any desalinization plants.

But will it be funny to Californians if they lose major hydro power in a summer already expected to feature blackouts?

Funny as drowning in quicksand because you don't know to lay flat.

Paddy O said...

Quicksand is less dramatic now that people don't tend to wear hats.

tim maguire said...

rcocean said...Yes, its was a bummer to learn that you can stop sinking in quick sand by going horizontal and spreading your weight over the surface. It took all the fun out of it.

The bummer for me was noticing there wasn't any quicksand anywhere. Like Mulaney, I really thought it was a thing you had to worry about.

Ann Althouse said...

"My god, we're sinking! Will we escape this life-threatening situation before time runs out?"

What I remember hearing that was scary was that if you struggle, you'll only make it worse for yourself. If you *try* to get out, you will sink!

Bruce Hayden said...

Let’s panic. We are all going to die! The Earth is burning up with CAGW/Climate Change.

Except of course, it hasn’t been. We are in a cooling phase, and maybe eyeing a little ice age. There are naturally drought years, and years with too much rain. There would be more water in Lake Mead, if the down river states (AZ and very esp CA) had left more water in the lake in wet years. Someone noted the difference between LA and PHX, that the former was filled with lawns, and much of the latter is xeriscaped. LA/CA apparently just killed a desalinization plant. The technology works, as shown by the Israelis, but no self respecting eco warrior would allow it in LA. Which leaves stealing every drop they can from the CO River.

phillyfan said...

Maybe too many people live in the American Southwest, an area that has very little rainfall? I've always been amazed by the number of golf courses in Arizona and Nevada, the landscape of which is normally desert.

phillyfan said...

Maybe too many people live in the American Southwest, an area that has very little rainfall? I've always been amazed by the number of golf courses in Arizona and Nevada, the landscape of which is normally desert.
Phillyfan

Bruce Hayden said...

I hadn’t really thought of it much, but PHX really is heavily xeriscaped. The only real grass in our entire subdivision is in a community area by the community pool, and in the back, by the putting green. Everything else is rock, gravel, and desert plants. Some of the yards have green front yards, but that is inevitably some sort of artificial turf. Our little dog does know the difference, checking for scents of other dogs on the real grass, but pooping only on the artificial turf. Weird, but I put a piece of pet turf in the side yard for her, and she thinks that means that she can use it that way in other yards. Most of the time though, she picks doing it in the gravel in the common areas. But it isn’t just in the subdivisions, but also in the strip malls, etc. Then I go back to Denver where I grew up, and remember that I grew up surrounded by a lot of grass, which had to be mowed every week growing up. Almost everywhere I have lived in my life, except for in the mountains/rural MT, I have lived surrounded by grass (DC, VA, MD, CO, TX, NW NV). Except for PHX, and I think Albuquerque.

Steve Schainost said...

Not quicksand: Mud. I've seen this often over the years. A lake is drawn down for whatever reason. The surface of the mud covering the lake bottom dries enough to walk on. Then some yahoos, thinking their 4-wheel drive vehicle can go anywhere, drive out and bury it in the thick, stinky mud that is just under that dry surface. Usually far enough out that the wrecker fee will be very high (including the "stupidity" surcharge).

Narayanan said...

Mud <> == quicksand : what is the difference -
the depth or /viscosity/ or oozeousness

Enigma said...

@John Henry -- the entire Colorado River's water supply is allocated to communities across the west. Water is piped when possible to avoid evaporation, and it also goes through a series of artificial lakes for storage and electric power generation. The river is literally drained dry before reaching the ocean via the Gulf of California (south of the US in Mexico). River development happened 50 to 100 years ago, and the inland west has nowhere else to go for GROWTH.


If the river dries up for any reason (natural, human-caused, or random), then many communities in the west are gonna have to change. Golf courses and swimming pools may go away. (So sad.) Farming will decline, etc. etc. etc. Options: ocean desalination or live a desert lifestyle or move.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_in_California

JLT said...

Well, Obama said that he would end rising sea levels.

Rollo said...

Molten rock floes -- another thing kids had to worry about. The floor is lava! Somebody even tried to make a game show out of that.

Filling out the list: mudslides, avalanches, or falling into a crevasse.

David-2 said...

Notably, there isn't any railroad equipment buried in that lake bed.

That stuff is too valuable to abandon to the quicksand.

Classic movie scene showing railroad equipment recovery from quicksand.

Mason G said...

"Which leaves stealing every drop they can from the CO River."

The Owens Valley says "What are we- chopped liver?"

chickelit said...

Ann Althouse said...What I remember hearing that was scary was that if you struggle, you'll only make it worse for yourself. If you *try* to get out, you will sink!

That phenomenon is real and the name for it is thixotropic sheer stress.

MadTownGuy said...

Ann Althouse said...

"My god, we're sinking! Will we escape this life-threatening situation before time runs out?"

What I remember hearing that was scary was that if you struggle, you'll only make it worse for yourself. If you *try* to get out, you will sink!
"

That's more true of mud than quicksand. I read an article about a lady who had ventured into the mud at Turnagain Arm on the Alaska coast, and was stuck in mud up to her knees. Friends came out in an air boat to free her up, but the more they pulled, the firmer she was stuck. Then the tide cane in and she was lost. This article - Rescuers try, but rising tide claims woman - is from another incident but the outcome was the same.

Tomcc said...

A not uncommon event, when I lived in Anchorage, was for folks to go 4-wheeling in the mud flats of the inlet, only to get stuck and drown when the bore tide came in.

rcocean said...

Old movies and TV shows constantly had "panicky idiots" who would refuse to "Stay Calm" or "Stay put" or "Stay quiet" and would end up sinking in the quick sand or being eaten by the lion.

Good times.

madAsHell said...

The quicksand plot device showed up on everything from "Tarzan" to the "Lone Ranger". Yes, it was widely over-used.

The other over-used plot device was "I removed the firing pin while you weren't looking." I think "Perry Mason" used it every other week.

I know enough about firearms to believe removing-the-firing-pin may not be 100% effective.

veni vidi vici said...

Years and years after the quicksand thing was out of fashion in film, none other than Mel Gibson brought it back in one of the greatest scenes of one of the most ambitious and incredible films of our time, "Apocalypto". While the film is worth seeing for that scene alone, the rest of it (including, thankfully, it's spectacularly well thought-out and told story) is extremely rewarding stuff. However, if one doesn't like subtitles it's probably best avoided.

iowan2 said...

"a shoreline that looks deceivingly stable, but acts more like quicksand."???

Most likely the people getting stuck are confusing lake bed, with coastal sands. It is(was?) very common to drive for miles along the cost on the sand. Don't slide or spin the tires, when you do, you are done. 40 years ago I did a week with my girlfriend and her family on South Padre Island. I slept in a tent on the beach with her brother and his wife (2 tents!). One morning I looked down the beach and saw a 50foot motor home stuck in the surf, the rear tires. It was explained to me, they backed into the serf, to dump their sewage tank. Not knowing the lapping of the water eroded the sand under their tires. Huge wrecker bill, and bigger fine for the dumping.

brentfinley said...

“According to a study published in the current issue of the journal Nature, it is impossible for a person immersed in quicksand to be drawn completely under. The fact is, humans float in the stuff.”

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/quicksand-science-why-it-traps-how-to-escape

iowan2 said...

All the talk about the lakes low level, just reinforces my dads prediction, that the next war was going to fought over water, not food, or oil.

California passed Wisconsin as the largest dairy state. Cows need massive amounts of forage, and lots of alfalfa. Alfalfa because it is both forage and protein. The vast majority of the inputs are irrigated acres.

iowan2 said...

Filling out the list: mudslides, avalanches, or falling into a crevasse.

You forgot tornadoes. Cant forget the Movies Wizard of Oz (we're not in Kansas anymore Toto) and Twister!

Wince said...

"Take your paws off me you damn dirty ape!"

That boat pointing up looks like the space ship in Planet of the Apes.

Mason G said...

"it's spectacularly well thought-out"

Having a full moon the night of a day when there was a total solar eclipse was less than well though-out, though. ;)

John henry said...

 chickelit said...

That phenomenon is real and the name for it is thixotropic sheer stress.

A fun, if messy, activity for kids is to mix 15-20# of cornstarch with water in a kids wading pool. It is really wierd stuff. Hit it with your fist and it is like hitting solid concrete. Press your fist against it and it goes in like oatmeal. Try to pull your fist out and you may not be able to. Literally. You have to ease it out slowly.

Grab a handful and squeeze and it will stay rocksolid all day long. Unclench your fist and it will run through your fingers like water.

Here's someone on Ellen Degeneres running across a tank of cornstarch https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RUMX_b_m3Js

This is what quicksand does. Rescue involves fire departments with high pressure hoses and overhead lifts. Extremely dangerous stuff.

Here's a brief training video https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gQo9aLZ1hY8


Gahrie said...

All the talk about the lakes low level, just reinforces my dads prediction, that the next war was going to fought over water, not food, or oil.

It doesn't need to be. Israel has done amazing things with water reclamation and desalinization. We've barely scratched the surface.

KellyM said...

I follow a gal on YouTube whose screen name is Wanderhussy. She does videos of cool desert spots all around California and Nevada. She recently made a short about the current state of Lake Mead.

https://youtu.be/7yoE9xIOsAE

Gordon Scott said...

The Phoenix area population has exploded since WWII and it's not slowing. There is a new planned development for a million people southeast of Mesa. They do not have water for it yet, but they believe they can get it somewhere. Mesa, which will pass Tucson as the second largest city, has water because it is crossed by canals, which carried water to orange groves. The new city has none of that.

The governor says Arizona will buy water from a planned Mexican desalination plant. It was pointed out that the cost of such water would be $130 per acre foot, which is very high compared to current sources. A family of three uses about an acre foot a year here (no lawn watering). But $130 is really just $11 per month. That's a blip compared to the AC bill.

Water has been an issue here forever. People think about it all the time. Solutions can be found.