18 April 2018
Castell de Mur: a major, fatal rockslide in Spain on Monday
On Monday a major rockslide occurred at Castell de Mur, in Catalonia, Spain. Estimates suggest that this rockslope failure had a mass of about 50,000 tonnes, and a volume of about 20,000 cubic metres. As the image below shows, the landslide came off of a steep scarp and swept across and buried a highway. Unfortunately there was a car on the road at the time, and the two occupants were killed. This image, tweeted by the local fire and rescue service, provides a good overview of the landslide:-
Meanwhile, this image, posted by Naciodigital, shows the impact of the landslide on the road:-
Carlos Jiméne, an engineering geologist, pointed that this is an area with a history of landslides. He noted that near to this rockslide there is an abandoned small village called Les Esplugues de Mur. This village had to be abandoned around 70 years ago because of effects of repeated rockslides, which even destroyed some houses. The only remaining building was the church, but this has been destroyed in the rockslide on Monday. It appears that the landslide on Monday followed a period of heavy rainfall.
It is worth noting the challenges faced by the emergency service in an accident like this. Accessing the site is very challenging, and of course there is always the risk of further slope collapses. Moving the boulders, when they are this size, is a great challenge, and of course a rockslide such as this is very traumatic to the victims.
Many thanks to Carlos Jiméne, Antoni López-Arenas i Cama and Oscar van der Velde, all of whom very helpfully and kindly alerted me to this rockslide. Your help is really appreciated.