20 April 2015

The Bolshaya Talda earthflow in Russia was a mine waste failure

Posted by dr-dave

The Bolshaya Talda earthflow

Many thanks to those who have helped to uncover the facts behind the amazing Bolshaya Talda earthflow in Russia, which was filmed in the amazing video about which I blogged late last week:

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A couple of people emailed to suggest, and Brett Gilley noted in comments,  that this might be a mine waste landslide, based on the materials involved, the appearance of the hills in the background and the presence of heavy equipment.  In comments on the original post, Michal cracked it though:

My Russian wife Vera found it all on the net and where the news came from.
The land slide was on a road between Novokuznetsk and Bolshaya Talda where there is also a railline along the road which is 1500km East of the Urals so not Western Russia. The land slide took place at 1pm local time, my wife can tell from the dialect that it is same as in this part of Russia also.
About 280km ESE of Novosibirsk, near Novokuznetsk. The name Zarechnyi is a very common name and could even be a local name for a mine or tiny settlement you might not find on a map.
Search in Google Earth Russia, Kemerovo Oblast, Bolshaya Talda.
The landslide looks like it may have come from a large coal mine area. There are some diggings there like in the Hunter Valley in NSW Australia.

Whilst it is difficult to be certain, the most likely location appears to me to be at  about 54.144, 87.098.  This site has all of the correct characteristics, including the appearance of the topography, the presence of the high voltage cables and the structure of the road:

Bolshaya Talda

Google Earth

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The image above is dated 8th September 2014.  There is also an image from 9th September 2013 of the same site:

Bolshaya Talda

Google Earth

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A comparison between the two images suggests that there has been recent active storage of waste at this site.  The video suggests that it was this waste that collapsed to generate the landslide.  It was fortunate that the failure occurred in the daytime and in an area with no houses. Of course, landslides like this should be avoidable – the mining industry is still associated with far too many landslides.  Recent examples include:

And there are many more.

Thanks to everyone who helped to unpick the riddle of this landslide.