Experts agree, videos of destroyed Utah arch and hoodoos are likely fake
Skepticism continues to grow over videos 2News uncovered Monday.
Two videos first posted to YouTube appear to show a Utah arch and two hoodoos being blasted to pieces by explosives.
Now, experts say something doesn’t add up.
David Rankin is photographer in southern Utah. He’s spent the past 20 years capturing images of the landscape.
“I’m pretty familiar with the geology down here,” Rankin said.
When he first saw the videos, Rankin admits he was shocked. He added:
If they are fakes, they’re really well-done fakes.
Out of frustration, Rankin took to Facebook.
“I just offered a $50 reward on my Facebook page for anyone who could identity if they arch or hoodoos were real and if they were real, where they were taken,” he said.
Several friends started commenting on the post. Avid adventurer Jamal Green, who created the blog Across Utah, recognized the background in the video. He claims it’s a view of the Petrified Dunes viewpoint in Arches National Park.
“There’s clearly two land features in the video of the hoodoosOne is a pointy spire of a sandstone bluff and, very briefly, you can see another butte next to that,” Rankin explained.
But, both Rankin and Green agree, the background of the videos don’t match the foreground. Plus, no one seems to know where the landmarks are located.
“The actual arch itself is a feature I don’t recognize in Utah,” said Jeffery Moore, a professor of geology at the University of Utah.
He’s spent years researching arches across Utah and has access to databases with thousands of images. He says it’s unlikely this arch is in Utah.
“The fact that nobody’s spotted this arch as something we know in Utah is definitely suspicious,” Moore said.
While Moore agrees the videos are likely fake, he does acknowledge how real the blasts look.
“How that boulder rolls down and breaks apart as it rolls down, it looks very realistic,” Moore said.
He also studies the movement of rocks. He said:
The way that this dust in these boulders trail off of this slope looks nicely realistic.
While all three men believe the videos are likely computer-generated, they still can’t understand why someone would create them in the first place.
“There’s a large community of people that really value these lands," Rankin said. "The arches and hoodoos that you find out here, these things take thousands of years to form."
The Utah Department of Natural Resources is in the process of reviewing the videos. They are currently undergoing a forensics analysis. Because it’s an ongoing investigation, a DNR spokesperson said they cannot discuss the details of the investigation.