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30 November 2021

Ananea: a significant mine waste failure in Peru

Ananea: a significant mine waste failure in Peru

On 26 November 2021 a significant landslide occurred in mine waste near to the town on Ananea in Peru.  I will say from the start that I am finding it extremely difficult to piece this event together as there is a wide range of conflicting information and images.  I am unsure as to whether this was a single event or a series of related failures, and I am unsure as to the level of damage.  Unfortunately at present there is no good satellite imagery.

I would welcome any insight that anyone can provide.

I’ll try to set out what I do know.  The official COEN-INDICI (Centro de Operaciones de Emergencia Nacional) Twitter site confirms that an event occurred on that date:-

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The translation is: On 11/26 there was a #landslide that caused damage to homes and roads in the Ananea district, San Antonio de Putina province (Puno). Local authorities evacuated the affected people and are coordinating their relocation.

The photograph shows the aftermath of a large landslide. There is also a set of images on the Sin Fronteras website, with a set of photographs.  The text says:

ANANEA. IN THE CHAOS! THE OVERFLOW OF THE MINING TAILINGS FROM A SEDIMENTATION POOL HAS LEFT THE ANANEA DISTRICT, IN THE SAN ANTONIO DE PUTINA PROVINCE, WITH THE STREETS FLOODED WITH MUD AND IMPASSABLE, SO THE RESIDENTS ASK THAT IT BE DECLARED IN EMERGENCY.

The overflow occurred yesterday at 8:30 in the morning, apparently from one of the sedimentation ponds of the San Antonio mining cooperative, located on the Q’oñiunu hill.

The collapse of the highly toxic material would have occurred due to the alleged negligence in the management and control of the mining waste pools; irresponsible work of some cooperatives.

It also includes some images, but I cannot figure out how they all fit together:-

An image of the aftermath of the landslide at Ananea in Peru.

An image of the aftermath of the landslide at Ananea in Peru. Image from Sin Fronteras.

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The image above is consistent with that tweeted by COEN. However, another image appears to show a different site altogether:-

An image of the aftermath of the landslide at Ananea in Peru.

An image of the aftermath of the landslide at Ananea in Peru. Image from Sin Fronteras.

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There are also some videos of a flood event circulating, such as this one on Tic Toc, and this one on Twitter:

But again I am unsure as to whether this is the same event.

Can anyone shed any more light on this event, or set of events?

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26 November 2021

Breaking Ground – a podcast on climate change and slope behaviour

Breaking Ground – a podcast episode on climate change and slope behaviour

Breaking Ground is a podcast run by Ground Engineering magazine.  Hosted by Steve Hadley (Chair of the Federation of Piling Specialists and Managing Director of Central Piling), it features people from across the ground engineering profession.

Last week I recorded an episode with Steve, which I found to be really interesting and fun.  That episode is now online on audible and is freely available.  Steve and I discuss a wide range of issues about slopes and slope behaviour, with a central focus on climate change.

I hope you enjoy it.

 

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23 November 2021

Large landslides at Beach Loop near Whareongaonga in New Zealand

A large landslide at Beach Loop near Whareongaonga in New Zealand

Heavy rainfall earlier this month caused extensive flooding and landsliding in the Gisborne area of New Zealand.  Three large landslides were triggered on the coast in the Beach Loop area to the south of Whareongaonga, about 30 km from Gisborne.

The Gisborne Herald has some images of the failures, including this one, which gives a sense of the scale:-

The Beach Loop landslide 30 km south of Gisborne in New Zealand.

A Beach Loop landslide 30 km south of Gisborne in New Zealand. Image from the Gisborne Herald, posted to Facebook by Liam Clayton.

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But there is an even larger one a little further along the coast:

The largest landslide at Beach Loop, 30 km south of Gisborne in New Zealand.

The largest landslide at Beach Loop, 30 km south of Gisborne in New Zealand. Image from the Gisborne Herald, posted to Facebook by Liam Clayton.

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The railway line in the images is the Wairoa to Gisborne line, which was mothballed after a storm in 2012.  There is controversy as to whether the line should reopen – Kiwirail has argued that the economic cost is too high for the value that the line brings.  I would imagine that these landslides will be a further blow to those who argue for reinstatement.  It is interesting to note that the failures appear to have rear scarps along the alignment of the railway.

Planet Labs has captured good imagery of the landslides:-

Satellite imagery of the aftermath of the landslides at Beach Loop in New Zealand.

Satellite imagery of the aftermath of the landslides at Beach Loop in New Zealand. Image copyright Planet Labs, used with permission.

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The largest failure appears to be a slump, whilst the smallest of the three (the most northerly) is more of a rapid earthflow, I think. I am unsure as to the middle one.  The alignment of the railway is also visible.

Although this is a rural area, the Gisborne Herald reports that a number of sacred sites for the indigenous population of New Zealand have also been lost.

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Reference and acknowledgement

Planet Team (2021). Planet Application Program Interface: In Space for Life on Earth. San Francisco, CA. https://www.planet.com/

Thanks to loyal reader Dr Murry Cave for highlighting these events to me.

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22 November 2021

The British Columbia landslides and floods – new images of the impacts

The British Columbia landslides and floods – new images of the impacts

Over the last few days new sets of images have been posted online of the enormous impact of the landslides that affected parts of British Columbia a week ago, caused by an exceptional rainfall event.  The most comprehensive images that I have seen were posted to Twitter by Brent Ward (@GeoBrentatlarge) from Simon Fraser University, resulting from a helicopter flight that he took with my former PhD student Sergio Sepulveda, also of SFU.  The Twitter thread is is below:

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Meanwhile, Jeremy Venditti (@VendittiLab), also from SFU, has posted some images of the terrible impacts at Tank Hill on Highway 1:-

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Meanwhile, BC Transportation has compiled a gallery of images including over 100 photographs and seven videos of the impacts of the extreme rainfall.  This for example is an image from Tank Hill:

The aftermath of the debris flow at Tank Hill in British Columbia.

The aftermath of the debris flow / flood at Tank Hill in British Columbia. Image posted to Flickr by BC Transportation.

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The human cost of the disaster has slowly increased as the recovery operation has continued.  At least four people are now known to have died in the landslides, with one more person missing. The three new confirmed fatalities occurred in the Duffy Lake area.

The Mining Journal has an interesting article focusing on the impact of the events on the extractive industries in the area, most notably the rail links that are the primary route for moving the ore to the coast.  There is also damage to pipelines used to transport crude oil and other hydrocarbon products, leaving fuel shortages in some areas.  Another potential impact that is causing concern is the fisheries industry, with concerns that the large volumes of water and sediment may have damaged wild salmon spawning grounds.

Unfortunately further heavy rainfall is forecast in the area.  This is not expected to be an extreme event, but with the ground already saturated the impacts might be greater than would be expected normally.

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19 November 2021

The 29 October 2021 Kameng River rock and ice avalanche in India

The 29 October 2021 Kameng River rock and ice avalanche in India

Back at the start of the month I highlighted an interesting event in northern India in which the Kameng River had seen a dramatic increase in turbidity and extensive fish mortality, based on an original post on the Discovering Aranchal blog.  I suggested that this was likely to be a landslide or glacial event, but the source area was covered in cloud.  Yesterday, the ever observant Dan Shugar noted that Planet captured a cloud free image on 17 November 2021, finally unveiling the sequence of events:

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This is the Planet image that shows the area.  Dan’s annotations in his tweet above indicate the source of the landslide that affected that Kameng Valley:-

Satellite image, captured on 17 November 2021, showing the landslide affected area in the headwaters of the Kamang Valley.

Satellite image, captured on 17 November 2021, showing the landslide affected area in the headwaters of the Kameng Valley. Image copyright Planet, used with permission.

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It is useful to compare this with another Planet image of the same area, from November 2020:-

Satellite image, captured on 13 November 2020, showing the landslide affected area in the headwaters of the Kamang Valley.

Satellite image, captured on 13 November 2020, showing the landslide affected area in the headwaters of the Kameng Valley. Image copyright Planet, used with permission.

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And below is a slider that should allow the images to be compared:

Satellite image, captured on 17 November 2021, showing the landslide affected area in the headwaters of the Kamang Valley. Satellite image, captured on 13 November 2020, showing the landslide affected area in the headwaters of the Kamang Valley.

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The source of this event, as highlighted by Dan, appears to be a high altitude bowl.  This feature is very clear in the Google Earth imagery:-

Google Earth image of the potential source of the landslide in the headwaters of the Kamang Valley.

Google Earth image of the potential source of the landslide in the headwaters of the Kameng Valley.

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A very provisional analysis is that some sort of slide appears to have developed in this area, which is about 600 m long and 700 m wide.  This appears to have descended as near vertical slope onto the head of the glacier in the valley below.  The vertical distance from the top of the peak to the top of the glacier is about  1,700 m.  The images indicate massive fragmentation at this point, and the formation of a rock and ice avalanche that swept down the glacier, entraining material en route before transitioning into the flow that was observed down valley.

Provisionally this is broadly similar to the 7 February 2021 Chamoli event, although the mechanism of the initial failure is not clear at present.

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Acknowledgement

Planet Team (2021). Planet Application Program Interface: In Space for Life on Earth. San Francisco, CA. https://www.planet.com/

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18 November 2021

Landslides and the road network in Uttarakhand, India

Landslides and the road network in Uttarakhand, India

The Indian Express is carrying a story today about landslides and the so-called Char Dham road project.  The Char Dham project involves widening and upgrading of 900 km of road between four population centres, Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath, in Uttarakhand.  I have blogged previously on this issue.  The trigger for the Indian Express article is a set of comments made by the Union Road Transport and Highways Secretary, Giridhar Aramane, yesterday.  These are the key quotes from the interview:

“So the allegation that highway construction is causing landslides is both spurious as well counter productive to the national causes”

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“The area is generally prone to landslides, even where there is no road… geology of the area is so fragile that there is no need for any external provocations. Internal forces, plate movements itself causes enough landslides in that areas”

There are, of course, parts of this that are correct.  The geology of the area is indeed fragile – this is an area of steep mountains in a fractured geology that is prone to seismicity and monsoon rainfall.  Landslides are inevitable even without the action of humans.

But to assert that highway construction is not causing landslides is demonstrably false.  There are numerous images online of landslides on the Char Dham highways, such as these:-

A landslide on the Char Dham highway network. Image by Hemant

A landslide on the Char Dham highway network. Image via Scroll.in

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A landslide on the Char Dham highway network

A landslide on the Char Dham highway network. Image  via Scroll.in.

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A landslide on the Char Dham highway network at Devprayag.

A landslide on the Char Dham highway network at Devprayag. Picture by Ayush Joshi via Citizenmatters.in.

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I could not argue that India is incorrect to upgrade its roads – indeed there are undoubtedly strategic and development imperatives to do so.  But in the fragile conditions of this area many landslides are inevitable during road construction unless high quality road engineering is adopted.  To deny that the highway construction is causing landslides flies in the face of the evidence.

Landslides cause environmental damage, they drive economic loss, they kill people, they make the road network unreliable and, if there were to be a major earthquake, they make the provision of rescue and recovery extremely difficult, as was so evident in Pakistan in 2005 and in China in 2008. It is a folly to build roads in this way and it is a folly to deny the evidence of the impacts of these techniques on the landscape.

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16 November 2021

Landslides and road damage from an atmospheric river event in British Columbia

Landslides and road damage from am atmospheric river event in British Columbia

British Columbia, in western Canada, suffered an atmospheric river rainfall event on Sunday and Monday that caused extensive damage and many landslides.  The full picture will not become clear until later this week, but levels of damage to the road network look to be high in places.

Live Journal has a good gallery of images of the aftermath, including this picture of a landslide on Highway 1 between Agassiz and Hope:-

A landslide on Highway 1 between Agassiz and Hope in British Columbia.

A landslide on Highway 1 between Agassiz and Hope in British Columbia. Image from Livejournal.

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Meanwhile another landslide occurred on Highway 5 to the north of Hope:-

A landslide on Highway 5 to the north of Hope in British Columbia.

A landslide on Highway 5 to the north of Hope in British Columbia. Image from Livejournal.

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Perhaps the most spectacular problem has occurred on Highway 1 between Lytton and Nicomen.  BC Transportation has tweeted a remarkable set of images of the impact at that site:-

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That is not going to be quick job to fix.  I believe that this is within the area that was affected by the large wildfire in July 2021.

And BC Highways has also tweeted images of a mudslide on Highway 99 near to Lillooet:-

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Meanwhile, the Vancouver Sun reports that as many as 275 people were trapped between two landslides on Highway 7 near to Agassiz.  It has a nice graphic illustrating the scale of the issue:-

A graphic from the Vancouver sun illustrating the scale of the issues caused by the atmospheric river in British Columbia.

A graphic from the Vancouver Sun illustrating the scale of the issues caused by the atmospheric river in British Columbia.

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The Vancouver Sun reports that 225 mm of rainfall was recorded at Hope in this storm.

Unfortunately it appears that there has been at least one life lost in these landslides, and the damage appears to be severe.

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Acknowledgement

Many thanks to the various people who have provided information about this event, especially Charles Hunt and Susan DeSandoli.

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15 November 2021

Landslides from the 14 November 2021 M=6.3 earthquake near to Fin in Iran

Landslides from the 14 November 2021 M=6.3 earthquake near to Fin in Iran

At 12:08 UTC on 14 November 2021 a M=6.3 earthquake struck Iran close to the village of Fin, 64 km to the north of Bandar Abbas in Iran.  With a depth of 15 km, this was an event of sufficient magnitude to trigger landslides and damage to structures.  Fortunately, it occurred in an area that is lightly populated, so the losses are likely to be low.

The area affected by the Fin earthquake is mountainous but very arid.  Experience from similar settings (see our work on the 2010 Sierra Cucapah earthquake in Mexico for exampleBarlow et al. 2014) suggests that such events will trigger significant numbers of landslides over the area affected.  The arid conditions will mean that these release vast clouds of dust.

Interestingly, a series of videos have emerged on Twitter showing the landslides triggered by this event, posted by Mohammad Mohseni Aref from the University of Potsdam (@MohseniAref)The most circulated is this one, which is elegant for capturing both the landslides and the lorries rocking on their suspension as the earthquake waves passed through:-

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This is thought to have been taken on the road from Shahid Rajaie port, Bandar Abbas.

There is a similar video from a toll plaza closer to the mountains:

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The locatuon of this point appears to be consistent with the structures at 27.581, 54.249 on Google Earth.  If so this is about 25 km from the USGS epicentre.

This one appears to have been taken from a vehicle travelling towards the mountains:-

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Geno Mountain is at 27.416, 56.144.

Perhaps the most spectacular was taken close to the mountain front, illustrating how even a small collapse can trigger vast amounts of dust:-

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It will be interesting to see the satellite images from this event that should emerge today.  Planet collected an excellent image from before the earthquake yesterday, and typically image this area every day.  However, many of the landslides are likely to be small, so may be difficult to resolve.

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Reference

Barlow, J., Barisin, I., Rosser, N., Petley, D.,  Densmore, A. and Wright, T. 2014. Seismically-induced mass movements and volumetric fluxes resulting from the 2010 Mw = 7.2 earthquake in the Sierra Cucapah, Mexico, Geomorphology, Available online 24 November 2014, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2014.11.012.

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12 November 2021

An update on the Ministro Hales mine landslide in Chile

An update on the Ministro Hales mine landslide in Chile

A picture has now emerged of the 9 November 2021 Ministro Hales landslide in Chile:-

The 9 November 2021 landslide at the Ministro Hales mine in Chile.

The 9 November 2021 landslide at the Ministro Hales mine in Chile. Image tweeted by Marcela Hernando.

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This confirms the satellite image that I published on Wednesday, showing that this is a large rockslide in a benched section of slope.

News reports indicate that the landslide was anticipated.  Movement was detected in the wall in July, allowing a plan to be put in place to mitigate the threat.  BNAmericas reports that Codelco have stated that:

“In July – through focused monitoring – the control and contingency plan was designed and defined based on the safety of people, which considered the total closure of all access to the identified area and preventive detention of the adjacent phase”

Codelco report that the landslide occurred in a sterile part of the mine and that operations are unaffected.

 

 

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10 November 2021

A large landslide at the Ministro Hales mine in Chile

A large landslide at the Ministro Hales mine in Chile

Loyal reader Luis Donoso highlighted to me yesterday a tweet of a video that showed the aftermath of a very large landslide in a high wall mine:-

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The tweet speculated that this was at the Ministro Hales mine in Chile, which is operated by Coldelco. A second tweet suggested that the failure might have been “expected and controlled”.

Planet Labs imagery of the Ministro Hales mine suggests that a large landslide did indeed occur at this site sometime between 8 and 9 November.  An image captured at 13:55 UTC on 8 November shows no new landslide (although a smaller previous event is visible):

The Ministro Hales mine in Chile on 8 November 2021.

The Ministro Hales mine in Chile on 8 November 2021. Image Copyright Planet Labs, used with permission.

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An image captured at 14:42 UTC on 9 November clearly shows a large landslide:-

The Ministro Hales mine in Chile on 9 November 2021, showing the landslide.

The Ministro Hales mine in Chile on 9 November 2021, showing the landslide. Image Copyright Planet Labs, used with permission.

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I have tried to include this as a slider below so that the before and after images can be easily compared:-

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The Ministro Hales mine in Chile on 8 November 2021. The Ministro Hales mine in Chile on 9 November 2021, showing the landslide.

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Based upon the imagery the landslide is about 700 m long and 450 m wide.  It has encompassed the existing slide but is far larger. The mobility of the landslide does not seem to be exceptional.  There are some large blocks visible in the head scarp region.

Large rock slope failures in high wall pits are not unusual, and this is not the largest event that I have described.  Big pits typically use radar and other monitoring methods to detect potential failures, so it is credible to believe that this landslide was anticipated.  It will be interesting to see better imagery of the aftermath of the landslide, and to learn about the transition to failure.

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Reference

Planet Team (2021). Planet Application Program Interface: In Space for Life on Earth. San Francisco, CA. https://www.planet.com/

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