19 January 2015

A new valley blocking landslide in the Zanskar valley in northern India

Posted by Dave Petley

Zanskar valley landslide

News agencies in India are reporting that a large landslide has blocked the Phuktal River in the Zanskar Valley.  The information about this landslide is a little unclear, although most reports suggest that the barrier is about 200 feet (61 m) high.  It appears that a helicopter overflight has been undertaken, from which DNA have published this not very high quality, but still interesting, image:


If this is indeed the landslide then a large and already frozen lake appears to have started to develop.  The landslide itself is indeed substantial.  The material on the left side looks to be quite fine-grained.

Presumably at this time of year the rate of flow along the river is comparatively low, but the landslide undoubtedly poses a significant threat.  Reports suggest that four villages are being evacuated and that the Chadar Trek, a 150 km ice hike, has been closed.   Kashmir Life suggests that the landslide occurred on 31st December and that the lake is now 5 km long.

Based on the information that is available in the news reports, this is the most likely stretch of river affected by the landslide:

Zanskar Valley

Google Earth


This image suggests that it will be extremely difficult to move sufficient resources to the site to manage the hazard.