But should the situation ever arise, don’t panic. Most quicksand is only about 2- 4 feet deep. The first thing you need to do is stop thrashing about as you probably would be. I’ve often seen it likened to a house of cards in which most of the overall size is empty space. Sand is normally packed together pretty tight. Floating, which I’ll save for another topic, is a matter of density. Premium Membership is now 50% off. If you do find yourself stuck in quicksand, the best idea is to lean back so that the weight of your body is distributed over a wider area. In fact, slow back-and-forth movements can actually let water into the cavity around a trapped limb, loosening the quicksand’s hold. In quicksand, there is more space between sand grains. It can take a little time, but you should be able to get yourself out or at least to a point at which someone can then pull you out. Quicksand is usually a mixture of two things, sand and water. Quicksand is a mixture of sand and water that looks solid, but acts like a liquid when you disturb it. Given how often quicksand deaths and near-deaths occur in film, you would think we would be seeing news about quicksand tragedies in real life. Strong sudden movements quicken the solidification of quicksand, making it more like a solid than a liquid, so pulling and jerking only makes a bad situation worse. After all, it seemed that characters in cartoons and movies were always sinking in quicksand. Then, slowly try to wiggle out one leg. Well . One genuine danger is that a person who is immobilized in quicksand could be engulfed and drowned by an incoming tide—quicksands often occur in tidal areas—but even these types of accidents are very rare. Credit: NPS/ Jacob W. Frank/ Public Domain. That is the reason it … Once you push away, or displace, an amount of water equal to your weight, you stop sinking. When you step in quicksand, you push the water away. If everything you learned about quicksand came from watching movies, then you're dangerously misinformed. However, both the series and the book it is based on are meant to reflect contemporary society. So it got me thinking? A study published in Nature determined that you would need to exert a force strong enough to lift a medium-sized car just to pull one foot out of quicksand! It can also be made up of silt and water or clay and water. Just as depicted in the movies, quicksand appears to have a solid state, but when touched, turns into a gelatinous liquid that can trap a person. Is quicksand a real thing. If you step into quicksand in real life, you don't sink until you drown. That’s because quicksand is denser than the human body. Even if it were deeper, you still wouldn’t disappear. The sand looks like a solid before it is disturbed, but when you step down on it, quicksand acts like a liquid so you sink into it. Quicksand was probably the number-one hazard faced by silver-screen adventurers, followed by decaying rope bridges and giant clams that could hold a diver underwater. Disturbing quicksand makes it flow like water, so the real enemy in this instance would be gravity. Does quicksand exist? People and animals can get stuck in it, but they don’t get sucked down to the bottom—they float on the surface. Is quicksand a real thing. That means that a human body floats in quicksand. an underground spring. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. It can be partly because of the shapes of the sand grains and partly because something has forced them apart. There is actually a type of quicksand made up of … If you want to experiment with something like quicksand, mix 1 cup of water with about 1.5 – 2 cups of cornstarch and maybe a little food coloring. The unlucky victim starts sinking down into the muck; struggling only makes it worse. So unlike many cartoons and movies, you are less likely to find quicksand in a desert than in wet places, such as on beaches, alongside lakes or rivers, and in marshes. It can also be made up of silt and water or clay and water. Quicksand is about twice as dense as the average human body. Getting out will take a while, though. Depending on your size, you would probably only be up to your knees or waist. Given how often quicksand deaths and near-deaths occur in film, you would think we would be seeing news about quicksand tragedies in real life. That spring forces more water between the sand grains. Quicksand can … Moving around will cause you to sink more. Instead, slowly lie backward to spread your weight more evenly. Our legs are pretty dense, so they may sink, but the torso contains the lungs, and thus is buoyant enough to stay out of trouble. Those spaces can become filled with water. Is quicksand actually as dangerous as advertised? It used to be a standard trope in action movies, although you don’t see it much these days: a patch of apparently solid ground in the jungle that, when stepped on, turns out to have the consistency of cold oatmeal. As you wiggle, some water will seep back in to loosen the sand. Once you’ve pushed the water aside, the remaining sand will be tightly packed around you. Indeed it is, but it isn’t exactly like you see on television. In real life, you can't be saved by someone pulling you out. I recently attended a meeting with someone who joked that his biggest childhood fear was drowning in quicksand. Quicksand is similar to the wet sand on a beach, but it usually has water being forced into it from below, such as from an underground spring. Quicksand is not based on any particular story or any particular real-life school shooting. Quicksand was probably the number-one hazard faced by silver-screen adventurers, followed by decaying rope bridges and giant clams that could hold a diver underwater. maybe. After reports Monday that a Mesa man was saved from quicksand at Zion National Park in Utah, our newsroom was buzzing about the fact that quicksand is actually real … Quicksand—that is, sand that behaves as a liquid because it is saturated with water—can be a mucky nuisance, but it’s basically impossible to die in the way that is depicted in movies. And unlike in the movies, you cannot simply grab on to a tree branch or rope extended by a friend. Is it like this? Less dense objects float in more dense materials. As a result, you sink more into the wet sand than the dry sand. While it may sound like the creation of a science-fiction writer, quicksand is absolutely real. That’s why people get stuck. Black Friday Sale! There is actually a type of quicksand made up of sand and air, but that form is more rare. Quicksand is basically a mixture of sand and water. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. But an Internet search for deaths by quicksand won’t turn up much. You're less dense than quicksand, so you can't sink … Moving won’t cause you to sink. That is why quicksand is often found near riverbanks or beaches. Dry sand higher up on the beach supports you more than wet sand closer to the ocean. The sand grains become compressed, or squeezed together, causing the sand to act like a solid that supports your weight. That’s because you actually float in quicksand. Nope. The trick to escaping the trap is to move slowly and try to float. Unlike what you may have seen, you won’t actually disappear into quicksand. What Is Quicksand? Unless there’s a vine to grab a hold of, he or she disappears without a trace (except maybe a hat floating sadly on the surface). Think about walking on a beach. Yes, quicksand is very real. You still have a problem if you step in quicksand even if you can’t sink. . To understand what happens, imagine pressing your foot down on normal sand. Quicksand is basically a mixture of sand and water. And hopefully that is as close to quicksand as you will ever get. It was a bad way to go. Indeed it is, but it isn’t exactly like you see on television. The short answer is: yes. You asked us, "Is quicksand real?" . You can drop and press objects into your “quicksand” to see what happens. Physicists have calculated that the force required to extract your foot from quicksand at a rate of one centimeter per second is roughly equal to the force needed to lift a medium-sized car.