Drone video shows cliff collapsing into Lake Superior, narrowly missing kayakers

MUNISING, MI. – Kayakers on a tour of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in northern Michigan narrowly escaped injury when a large section of cliff collapsed near them into Lake Superior.

WLUC-TV reports the kayakers were in an area where sandstone cliffs stand up to about 200 feet above the water.

Van Ouellette-Ballas of Northern Waters Adventures, one of the guides, says smaller rocks had fallen near the group Monday before the massive section fell. He says they “thought we were at a safe distance” and were paddling away when the large collapse missed them by about 50 feet.

Nature photographers Jon Smithers and Craig Blacklock were on a boat and Smithers turned a drone toward the sounds of the collapse in time to record video of it.

“We really thought there were kayakers underneath because it blew out so far,” said Smithers.

Smithers told WLUC-TV after they heard screams and saw the cliff fall, he flew his drone closer to make sure everyone was okay.

The video, posted to YouTube, is quickly going viral.

Richard Ziegler, a geology professor at Northern Michigan University, explained what happened isn’t often captured on video.

“The slope has been over-steepened by waves pounding away at the bottom of the slope,” said Ziegler. “The slope becomes too steep. Gravity takes over, and rock starts to fall.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kevin Jacobsen

Kevin Jacobsen

News Director

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