Chesterton Tribune



More than 60 anomalies found by radar in the Mt Baldy dune

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Ground-penetrating radar has located scores of “anomalies” in the Mt. Baldy sand dune at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, where a 6-year-old Illinois boy was buried alive last summer after falling into an 11-foot deep hole.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which conducted the radar survey, submitted its final report to the National Park Service (NPS) last month, NPS spokesman Bruce Rowe told the Chesterton Tribune today. NPS has since forwarded the report to the National Park Service’s Geological Resources Division in Fort Collins, Colo., for its review.

The results of the survey: there are at least 66 anomalies in Mt. Baldy’s moving dune, six of which have been identified as metal objects. But it’s impossible to say what exactly the rest of them are, Rowe said. They could be tree stumps or they could be cavities--left by the remnants of a decomposed tree--or they could be something else.

“Any moving dune will have stuff beneath it that’s been covered up,” Rowe noted. “This survey shows there’s a lot under there but at this point we don’t know what the anomalies are. That’s the bottom line.”

The metal objects, Rowe speculated, could be “old pop cans from years ago or even pieces of a fence line. We do know that at some point in the past there was a barbed wire fence on Mt. Baldy. When it was put there, we don’t know.”

By the end of the month, Rowe said, the Geological Resources Division should have completed its analysis of the EPA report and made recommendations, which could include further testing with different equipment.

Mt. Baldy has been closed since June 12, when Sterling, Ill., resident Nathan Woessner, 6, fell into a hole in the dune. Initial efforts to rescue him caused sand to collapse into the hole, burying him. Nathan was trapped for more than three hours but was able to survive in an air pocket until he was rescued.

At the time, Rowe said that no records have been found of similar incidents either in the National Lakeshore or at any other location. The hole in which Nathan was trapped, however, is believed to have been naturally occurring and may be an artifact of the well documented southward drift of the Mt. Baldy dune.

Researchers at Indiana University Northwest have found that the annual sand accretion rate at Mt. Baldy varies from three meters to as many as six meters. That drift may have uncovered a cavity in the dune created by the decomposition of an old tree.

In August EPA investigators found a second hole, similar to the one in which Nathan was trapped, approximately five feet in depth and 10 inches in diameter.



Posted 2/7/2014




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