9 June 2014

Litochovice: an interesting highway landslide in the Czech Republic

Posted by Dave Petley

Litochovice landslide

The Litochovice landslide occurred on 7th June 2013 in the Czech Republic.  Until yesterday I hadn’t heard of this landslide, even though it is both large and interesting.  GIM International, who have been undertaking a project to map the landslide using UAVs, have released this oblique aerial shot of the site:


The very obvious road at the foot of the slope (and now buried for a substantial section) is the under-construction D8 motorway linking Prague with Saxony in Germany.  In this section the road is passing through the Czech Central Mountains, which are known to be landslide-prone.  The road appears to be traversing a slope with a cutting on the upslope side of the highway – a working hypothesis might be that it has cut through the toe of a pre-existing landslide, which then destabilised in heavy rainfall.  Note the roads across the surface of the displaced mass post-date the landslide (see images below).

The work undertaken by GIM International appears to be to map the landslide in detail, and they have made this youtube video of their GIS model of the Litochovice landslide available:


There is also a really nice image of the Litochovice landslide on a discussion forum on Skyscraper City:




An interesting aspect of the landslide is the location of the head scarp close to the quarry.  An area for investigation will be whether any material from the quarry has been dumped on the upper reaches of the landslide, possibly further destabilising the slope.  I suspect that the investigation team will also be very interested in the stability of the section of the slope between the landslide and the flyover that crosses the river, including the section with the two small bridges.  Judging by the shape of the land I would be unsurprised to find that this section also has a history of instability.

The road is not expected to open within the next year.


I’ve also come across this interesting image of the landslide, apparently taken rather soon after the slide:




It is clear that the slide removed as a remarkably intact, coherent block – note that tracks on the slide body are essentially undisturbed.  This supports the notion that this is a reactivation of an existing planar slip plane.