What Is Quicksand and How Do You Escape It?

(Last Updated On: November 2, 2018)

What Is Quicksand and How Do You Escape It?
No doubt, you have seen movies where quicksand sucks unsuspecting characters into its depths. If they are lucky, they will be saved. If they aren’t so lucky, they will perish in a sandy tomb. If you were to believe the movies, you would think that quicksand was a huge danger and that we should all tread carefully on this earth. While quicksand does exist, it’s not exactly the treacherous pitfall it’s made out to be.

In this post, we’ll clear up a few things about quicksand: What is quicksand in the first place? How does quicksand form? Where is quicksand found? And is quicksand even that common?

What Is Quicksand?

Quicksand is a natural phenomenon that forms when solid ground becomes liquefied by water saturation. It is called “quicksand” because of how easy the surface shifts while in this semi-liquid state.

While it may seem like quicksand needs a special type of soil to form, it does not. More often than not, it is just a grainy soil that gets overly wet. In essence, it is nothing more than sand and water, and it can occur anywhere if the conditions are right.

How Does Quicksand Form?

Quicksand is formed when sand is saturated with water and then gets agitated. Water gets trapped in the sand and creates liquefied soil, which no longer has the ability to hold any weight. Sand gets agitated in two ways: from the flow of underground water and from earthquakes.

When underground water is the cause of agitation, it usually happens when the water is forced upward and results in the sand granules becoming more buoyant. When an earthquake causes agitation, the shaking ground increases the pressure of groundwater, which then causes sand and silt deposits to become liquefied. Since liquefied sand can no longer hold weight, anything on the surface of it will fall over or sink.

Where Is Quicksand Found?

Vibrations and water work together to reduce the friction between sand particles, which makes the sand act like a liquid. If anything touches the surface of the sand, it gives way, and that thing will sink beneath into the liquefied sand.

Quicksand can form in any area where water is present. However, there are some places where it occurs more often than others. These include marshes, riverbanks, beaches, underground springs, and lake shorelines.

Most quicksand looks solid, and the vast majority of people probably wouldn’t be able to recognize it was quicksand just by looking at it. However, if they were to step on it or throw something in it, they would quickly realize that the surface was not solid and they could sink into it.

How Common Is Quicksand?

Quicksand is actually an incredibly common phenomenon that occurs all over the world. There have been cases of people dying from quicksand, but it usually isn’t from the sand itself. It is often because people get stuck and then die from exposure, thirst, or hunger.

However, the chances of dying in quicksand are rare, especially since most pits don’t go deeper than a person’s waist. Despite what the movies depict, people don’t get instantly sucked into the depths of quicksand and have to fight for their life. Remember that quicksand is basically water and sand, and human bodies are buoyant and float in water. By relaxing and making our surface area bigger, we can float on quicksand and find a way to safety.
When I was a kid, I thought quicksand was going to be a much bigger problem than it really is.

How to Get out of Quicksand

If you find yourself trapped in quicksand, there are some things to keep in mind so you can escape. As mentioned above, remember that you are buoyant and float on water, so lean back and relax until you find solid ground.

If you have stepped in it and your feet are stuck, don’t struggle. You also need to be aware that attempting to pull yourself out, either with a nearby branch or with the help of a friend, won’t be successful. You’ll need to move your legs slowly to reduce viscosity. This can be accomplished by moving it from side to side. It will move the particles away from your body and give you the space you need to get out.

Quicksand has been used in movies and TV shows for a long time, and it seems like it is a huge issue that plagues humanity. While there have been deaths, quicksand is an incredibly common natural phenomenon. More often than not, it is not deep enough to suck an entire body down, and since humans can float on water, we can typically escape quicksand’s clutches.

Why Is Quicksand so Common in Movies and TV?

While this question isn’t easy to answer, it could be for a variety of reasons, including:

  • People don’t know a lot about quicksand, so it seems plausible that an event like this could occur. The use of quicksand in a movie or TV show plays off people’s fears of the unknown.
  • It’s lazy writing. It’s possible that the writers need a quick way to kill off a character or put them in danger, and without being able to come up with anything better, they throw in quicksand.
  • It’s convention. For some movies, quicksand has always played a role, so for entertainment purposes or to harken back to earlier films, the writers continue to incorporate it in the storyline.

So there you have it – everything you ever needed to know about how to handle quicksand what to do if you find yourself in it.

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