21 March 2015
Over the winter an impressive and very large landslide has developed on a key strategic highway at Markovici in Montenegro. This has destroyed the main road that links Podgorica, the capital city, to the coastal urban areas. The landslide, is described in a good news article from about a week ago, has been captured in some very nice drone footage that is on Youtube:
The landslide appears to be on this section of road, as seen on Google Earth:
The damage to the road near to Markovici is impressive – this is a still from the drone footage:
In many ways this is not an exceptional landslide – it is a classic reactivation of a translational slide, caused by heavy rainfall. The road has displaced laterally and dropped as the landslide has moved, and internal deformation of the landslide body has caused the buckling of the highway.
Similar landslides occur all over the world – this is an example from near to Bharibise in northern Nepal:
Such landslides can be mitigated with standard techniques – with enough expertise and resource they can be stabilised and the road can be reinstated. The major challenge is the cost, especially in poorer countries. In Nepal this is usually managed by having a gravel surface and non-rigid structures, such as the gabians seen in the image, Each time the road moves it is regraded using a bulldozer. This results in a very poor quality road that is slow, uncomfortable and damaging to vehicles, but at least it can be reinstated reasonably quickly on each occasion. This is far from an ideal solution, but where resources are limited it is simply pragmatic.