Think of a fiction thriller or a horror movie in a jungle setup and the first demonic thing that comes to mind is a quicksand. Quicksand has one hell of a murderous reputation, thanks to all the movies that have portrayed this natural formation in that image. But interestingly, a quicksand is not really that demonic as we think of it to be. Today, let us learn 20 interesting quicksand facts and bust all the myths associated with it.
Interesting Quicksand facts: 1-5
1. Quicksand is not really region-specific. This means that a quicksand can appear just about anywhere in world.
2. The probability of formation of a quicksand increases drastically in the vicinity of a water body. This means that a quicksand is more likely to be found on beaches, riverbanks, marshes, lake shorelines or close to underground springs. This however does not warrant that a quicksand will not be found anywhere else. Given the right set of natural conditions, a quick sand can appear in the most unlikely of places.
3. Quicksand is essentially ordinary sand with the only difference being that in case of a quicksand, the sand is actually over saturated by water, with no escape route for the water. The presence of excess water reduces the level of friction between two neighboring sand particles.
4. It is under this situation that the sand and water stay mixed together in form of a mushy mixer. Actually it is a colloidal state where, due to lack of friction, the sand is no longer able to support weight.
5. Geologist Denise Dumouchelle from United States Geological Survey explains that if there is an area of loose sand near a water body, the water will saturate the area. This will agitate the ordinary surrounding sand.
Interesting Quicksand facts: 6-10
6. If the water somehow manages to escape, it is good and well but if the water gets trapped, it will lead to formation of liquefied soil, which will no longer be capable of supporting weight.
7. On the top surface however, everything will look normal. The very moment some pressure is exerted on the top surface, the liquefied soil underneath will fail to support the pressure and gets displaced in all possible direction.
8. When the underground liquefied soil is displaced, the top surface gives way and the victim sinks.
9. Now, when we say that the victim sinks, we don’t really mean it. The victim is not really sucked up entirely by the quicksand. Contrary to the popular belief, victim only sinks to knee depth.
10. The problem however is that once in the pit, the victim will actually try hard to get out of the place. Using the natural locomotion, the victim will try to pull out one leg by exerting more pressure on the other leg.
Interesting Quicksand facts: 11-15
11. Such an attempt only worsens the situation. With all pressure concentrated on one leg, the area on which the pressure acts is reduced, thereby leading further displacement of liquefied soil and the victim sinks even further.
12. The best line of defense, when trapped in a quicksand, is to stay quiet and calm. This will keep the victim afloat. The density of quicksand is always greater than the density of human body and hence, if the victim stops exerting pressure in downward direction, there is absolutely no way one will be sucked up completely.
13. The density of quicksand is 2 g per cubic centimeter as opposed to 1 g per cubic centimeter of human body.
14. The density of quicksand can be lower than 2 g per cubic centimeter depending on the volume of water present below. However, its density never falls below that of human body density.
15. Despite having a low density than quicksand, a victim can actually drown in it. How? This is possible only when the victim falls head first into the pit. Under this situation, the victim will usually panic and will try to push the sand down in an attempt to pull out the head. This will result in further sinking and eventually death by asphyxiation.
Also Read: 15 Interesting Drowning Facts
Also Read: 25 Interesting Dead Sea Facts
Interesting Quicksand facts: 16-20
16. Even if the victim (who falls head first into quicksand) tries to stay calm and wait for the help to arrive (assuming no one is around), it is very unlikely for him or her to survive because holding breath for such a long period is literally not possible for any ordinary man.
17. If someone gets stuck normally (not head first) and there is no rescue team visible anywhere close, he or she can still get out of quicksand. The first step to self-rescue is to lie down on the back. And wait for the body to float out on top.
18. The next step is rollover on stomach keeping the head up in air and using both hands to gradually drag the body forward. This movement needs to be slow. The slow movement will allow the person to swim forward to firmer ground. Alternately, instead of rolling over, the person can actually start sweeping the hands.
19. There is however a problem with self-rescue when trapped in a quicksand pit. The problem is the human instinct to stay on foot. 9 out of 10 people will very likely try to get up on their feet the moment their bodies float out on top.
20. A quicksand is usually not very deep. It hardly reaches the depth of a couple of feet. The problem however is the surrounding area. In case someone is trapped in a quicksand on a sea beach, the tidal waters pose a great threat. A person trapped there is more likely to drown in tide water. Sometimes, the trapped people simply dehydrate and die because of the sun or just perish because of hunger. It is not really quicksand that kills them.
Sources: 1, 2