24 May 2013

A round-up of recent landslide incidents, including two American children tragically killed by a mudslide whilst collecting fossils

Posted by Dave Petley

The following landslide incidents caught my eye in the last few days:

1. A tragic mudslide in St Paul, Minnesota

Two young children were killed on Wednesday, and another was seriously injured, when a mudslide struck a school trip collecting fossils in Lilydale Regional Park.  It is a little unclear as to exactly what happened, but it appears that the collapse was triggered by heavy rainfall.  To lose young children in such circumstances is desperately sad; one can only imagine the shear sense of panic amongst the teachers and children after the event.  Collecting fossils is a really important activity that must continue.  However, exposure of fossils that can be collected requires both soft rocks and active erosion, which means that care must be taken with regard to landslides, especially during heavy and/or prolonged rainfall.

2. The report on the Johnson’s Landing landslide in BC

On 12th July 2012 a landslide struck the small community of Johnsons Landing in BC, Canada.  I covered the landslide extensively at the time (including this memorable video) – it was an unusually large and rapid slide that engulfed the houses below, killing four people:

BC Government image


The full report is available here – I shall blog again on this in due course – and there is a nice news report about it here.  The salient points are:

  • The landslide was triggered by record rainfall and snowmelt;
  • It was the largest landslide in the region for 12,000 years;
  • It could not have been foreseen;
  • A high level of threat remains, such that 18 properties are considered to lie in the path of a potential landslide, with five of those being at a very high level of risk.

3. The Bingham Canyon landslide impacts continue

The enormous cost of the Bingham Canyon landslide continue to be felt.  Kennecott Utah Copper, the mine operators, have today released information about the “initial workforce implications” of the landslide, which make grim reading.  About 100 employees have lost their jobs, with the company warning that more redundancies will follow over the next month.

4. Landslides and the Day of Judgement

According to Arab News, one sign that the Day of Judgement is nigh is that three landslides will strike.  In the words of the article:

One will occur in the East, one in the West and one in the Arabian Peninsula. Not much further information has been given concerning these events—and therefore not much can be added. However, the well-known Hadith exegete Ibn Hajar does note that landslides are a well-known occurrence and have occurred often. Therefore, he says, it is likely that the nature of these three landslides which will occur shortly before the Day of Judgment will be of a much greater magnitude and severity, setting them apart from what occurs customarily in this world.

Please be assured that I will keep readers posted should such events occur.

5. Landslides in Hong Kong during heavy rainfall

During heavy rainfall early on Wednesday morning, there were 19 reported minor landslides in Hong Kong:

David Wong vis SCMP

David Wong via SCMP


Those who follow my Twitter feed ( @davepetley ) will know that I was in Hong Kong at the time, en route to Japan.  I can confirm that the rainfall was somewhat intense!