22 September 2011

Catching up part 2: landslides in NY State and Germany; the trial of the Italian Seismologists; and a video of a landslide on the Mohawk River

Posted by Dave Petley

This is the second catchup post (the first is here) after my recent travels.  Thanks for the patience of everyone who sent me information!

1. The Italian trial of seismologists and government officials

The most farcical natural hazard event of the decade must be the ridiculous trial of Italian seismologists and government officials over their “failure” to issue a warning (i.e. to predict) the L’Aquila earthquake.  Italy has been very proactive in the management of natural hazards – this process undermines so much of what has been achieved. It is hard to see how anyone involved in natural hazard research and mitigation would be willing to work in Italy if these individuals are convicted.

2. Landslides triggered by Hurricane Irene in the Adironack mountains

Thanks to William Howell Whitney for highlighting this terrific gallery of images of landslides triggered by Hurricane Irene in the High Peaks region of the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York (US).  There are some highly impressive channelized flows there!

3. A video of a landslide on the Mohawk River, also triggered by Hurricane Irene

Dr John Garver Of Union College has been working on the Mohawk River, which was seriously affected by flooding induced by Hurricane Irene.  I will quote his email from nine days ago:

“The lower Mohawk River has been in flood stage and clogged with debris from communities upstream.  This action has compromised the lock/dams along the lower Mohawk.  This weekend, after two weeks of this, the river carved new channels around Locks 8, 9, and 10.  During this rapid channel migration, we’ve seen tremendous mass failure.  I caught one with my camera last Friday.  This is posted to YouTube.  Here is the description that I wrote for that video:

The Mohawk Watershed in Upstate New York has seen tremendous flooding from Hurricane Irene and the Tropical Storm Lee (Aug-Sept 2011). On the lower Mohawk, where the River has a series of dams/locks for the Erie Canal, there has been significant damage, partly because so much debris has clogged the locks. As a result, the River has carved a channels around Lock 8, Lock 9, and Lock 10. Here is video showing this process at Lock 9. As the Mohawk River carves a new channel on the side of Lock 9 (Glenville NY), the road that crosses the lock (Rt. 103 from Rt. 5 to Rotterdam Junction) is eaten away by landslides. This video was taken at 5 pm 10 Sept, 2011. Note that this is just one of a series of landslides in this reach of the river that has resulted in this current geometry of the river channel.”

The Youtube URL is:


John has posted another video of the next lock upriver at Cranesville, which illustrates beautifully the magnitude of the flood damage:


4. Another train-related landslide, this time in Germany

Landslides affecting trains are a regular feature of this blog (for example here, here and here).  Thanks to Volker Trede-Mutz for  highlighting another incident, this time an accident at St Goar on the River Rhine in Germany.  Fifteen people were injured in the derailment.