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Officials in Jackson were aware a year ago that the hillside was shifting and had installed equipment to monitor the movement, Assistant Town Manager Roxanne Robinson said Friday.
"We acknowledged the hillside had some sloughing up. But there wasn't anything drastic until this past Friday," she said.
The movement increased and broke a water line last week. A crack appeared atop a steep slope overlooking the businesses below and the call to evacuate the 46 homes and apartment units on Budge Drive — a quiet lane that snakes partway up the foot of East Gros Ventre Butte — came Wednesday.
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By Saturday morning, the shifting earth had caused bulges in a road and a parking lot at the foot of the hill that were as big as 10 feet. The groundswell pushed a small town water pump building 15 feet toward West Broadway, the town's main drag.
Dangers Reclaimed land is highly susceptible to soil liquefaction during earthquakes, which can amplify the amount of damage that occurs to buildings and infrastructure. Subsidence is another issue, both from soil compaction on filled land, and also when wetlands are enclosed by levees and drained to create Polders. Drained marshes will eventually sink below the surrounding water level, increasing the danger from flooding.