Curiosities

What is quicksand

Most people know quicksand from having starred in dramatic and very tense scenes in many of Hollywood’s adventure or action films, some even see them in these scenes and wonder if quicksand really exists and if is that yes what danger they really have.

However, beyond their cinematographic character, they are a dangerous reality that we can find in many places and terrains of the planet, so it is convenient to know what quicksand is and what dangers it can pose. 

What are quicksand

Quicksand is what is known in physics as a non-Newtonian or colloid fluid . This means that it is a fluid that, depending on the circumstances, can behave as a liquid or as a solid , or both at the same time according to different parts. In more colloquial language, we could say that it is a fluid that, being made up of both liquid and solid particles, acts in both ways. This, in the case of quicksand, is a terrain that, although at first glance it may seem like a solid and stable terrain, in reality it constitutes a danger because it is a terrain with a high viscosity and with the ability to catch any person, animal or object that is placed on its surface.

The appearance of quicksand is that of a terrain that can be both sandy, swampy, mud, water with earth or sand on the surface, an area covered with leaves or even a simple puddle. The problem with these soils is that, being made up of water and very fine solid material, they act like a jelly , they remain stable as long as no specific force is exerted on them. For this reason, the leaves and other light bodies may not alter their condition. However, if a person or a large animal were to walk on this terrain, it would begin to sink into it as it is much denser than the material of which they are composed.

The big problem that these terrains present is that it would be necessary to exert an excessive force to be able to move or escape from them, since the body’s own weight is the one that pulls downwards, which is dangerous because they can end up completely absorbing people , animals or large objects such as vehicles, leading to death in the quicksand by drowning . In this way, it is very dangerous terrain that must always be avoided, whether you are walking or in a vehicle of any kind.

One of the aspects that must be taken into account in this type of terrain is that, if it has fallen on them, the most important thing is to avoid sudden movements , since they would lead to a faster sinking by exerting greater pressure on the fluid. On the contrary, the most advisable thing in these cases is to remain as still as possible to reduce the sinking speed or, if you want to reduce it even more, lie on your back. This should be done in a similar way to swimming on the back. With as much momentum as possible, you should jump backwards and with your arms outstretched. The goal is to stay on your back as much as possible. This position reduces the pressure on the fluid by spreading the weight over the entire surface of the back., which allows it to be easier to get off these grounds. From this position, you should swim similarly to the way you would in a pool when swimming on your back .

However, this should be done only in the event that it is not possible to leave these lands by other means. On the contrary, if there are other people who can help the person or animal that has been trapped in quicksand, the correct thing to do is to use a rope or rope to secure the person or animal in the quicksand and, from the other end, pull it out of this ground.

Is there quicksand in the desert?

One of the aspects that must be taken into account when it comes to encountering quicksand is that, although the belief that they are present in deserts has become popular , the most common is to find them in areas with abundant water . In fact, the most common areas to find quicksand are swampy areas, rivers and beaches .

So, although in many films we have seen quicksand in the desert, it is not possible , since they do not exist there.

One of the places where this type of terrain can be found very easily is in the sediments of the mouths of streams or rivers and lakes . As these are terrain made up of very fine sand and filled with water, it is very normal that they end up constituting quicksand terrain that can easily catch bathers.

Likewise, another of the places that should be avoided in order not to fall into quicksand are the areas of quagmire and mud in the swamps or reservoirs, since they act in the same way as they are made up of clayey sand and accompanied by a large amount of water.

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