11 September 2017
A dramatic earthflow video from Dimye village in Tibet
A video has been circulating this weekend on Twitter showing a dramatic earthflow from Dimye in Tibet. This apparently originated from Wechat & Weibo in China, although very little information is available about it. This is the Youtube version:-
The accompanying text for the video associated it with melting permafrost. On Twitter, Mika McKinnon (@mikamckinnnon) has undertaken a huge amount of background work on this event, and has identified the location as Dimye village, Zatoe (Zaduo in Chinese) township, Tridu county, Yushu prefecture, Qinghai Province. The landslide occurred on 7th September 2017. She also found an additional video of the landslide on Facebook.
Whilst the posting links this event to permafrost degradation, this is not clear to me. This image, from the second video, shows the materials involved in the landslide:-
The video does not showing any obvious frozen soil or ice blocks. To me this is quite reminiscent of the landslides that we see in peat in the uplands of Europe. My fellow blogger Callan Bentley featured a nice example on his blog exactly a year ago. The soils involved in the Dimye village landslide are extremely dark in colour, which suggests that they are rich in organic matter. I note that in a recent (open access) paper, Yang et al. (2017) describe peat areas in the Qinghai-Tibetan area, noting that there is significant environmental degradation occurring in these places, causing rapid peat loss.
It is not possible to say whether this is indeed a peat landslide, or something similar in an organic soil, or a permafrost slide. Unfortunately, I doubt that more information will become available in the near future. But it is a great video.