AZGS geologists are heading to the Willcox area in the morning to investigate giant cracks running down East Van Ness Road near Highway 191 in the Sunsites area. This part of Cochise County is plagued with both earth fissures and giant dessication cracks, although to residents, the subtle differences between these two natural hazards are probably of academic interest. They are more concerned about road access and safety. [right, AZGS earth fissure map of the Three Sisters Buttes area, Cochise Co.]
The Willcox Range News reports that the road is not a county road so there are no funds to try to repair it.
AZGS geologist Joe Cook who manages our earth fissure mapping project, is quoted "The difference between the two is that earth fissures are related to ground subsidence from the over pumping of groundwater, while GDCs [giant dessication cracks] are like giant mud crack networks related to soil shrinking and swelling due to wetting and drying and overall drought."