The appearance of a huge 'gash' in the Bighorn Mountains' foothills swept the Internet when Wyoming's hunting company SNA Outfitter & Guides uploaded a photo on social media on Oct. 24.

The crack is located 10 miles south from the town of Ten Sleep in Washakie County Wyoming. The gash is so massive it can engulf seven football fields.

Researchers are still determining the cause of the sinkhole formation. However, experts speculated that the gash is the result of a slow-moving landslide caused by heightened precipitation in combination with moisture from a spring nearby. This could have caused the landslide on one side of the mountains.

"A number of things trigger them, moisture in the subsurface which causes weakness in soil or geology, and any process that would weaken the bedrock or unstabilize it somehow," said Seth Wittke from the Wyoming Geological Survey. Wittke manages the geological and groundwater mapping and hazards.

In a follow-up post, SNA Outfitter & Guides shared findings from an engineer in Riverton, Wyoming who examined the area.

"Apparently, a wet spring lubricated across a cap rock. Then, a small spring on either side caused the bottom to slide out. He estimated 15 to 20 million yards of movement. By range finder, an estimate is 750 yards long and about 50 yards wide," wrote the company on social media.

Wittke added that the geological phenomenon is dubbed 'mass wasting event', which typically happens in various areas in the state. The Wyoming official noted that the event is a medium-to-large sized based on state standards.

Majority of these events happen in remote and uninhabited areas, bearing no direct threat to the population or property, unless people happen to be in the vicinity where the gash appeared.

In the American Geophysical Union's Landslide Blog, Dave Petley wrote that water seemed to play a crucial role in the gash's occurrence. Petley noted that the water's role doesn't suggest that the occurrence happened in just one sitting. He speculated that the the gash could be 'progressive failure' where behavioral changes in the springs happened like some type of internal damage on the slopes.

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