12 December 2019
The Kumtor gold mine landslide: high resolution Planet Labs images
Last week I highlighted the enormous landslide at the Kumtor Gold Mine on 1st December 2019. This was the latest in a series of failures at this very high altitude mine in Kyrgyzstan. Two employees from the mine were killed in the landslide. The best image that I have found of this landslide was published by 24.kg, which shows a view from the toe:-
The giant scale of this landslide is clear from the above image, as is the enormous challenges posed by the recovery operations for the victims. The excavations for this work can be seen on the right side of the landslide toe.
Planet Labs have captured high resolution images of this landslide using their SkySat instrument. As usual they are remarkable. This is the site prior to the failure:-
Note the fresh tipping activity on the left side of the image. There is some possible evidence of tension cracks at the toe of the slide on the right side of the image.
This is the image after the failure:-
The image shows the full length of the landslide from the rear scarp on the left to the toe on the right, The excavations for the rescue operations can be seen near to the toe. The crown of the landslide has cut through the area of recent tipping. A huge mass has failed, and there is extensive evidence of tensional cracking through the landslide body. On the right side of the landslide mass it appears that a facility of some sort has been partially buried.
This is one of the largest mining landslides of recent years. There has long been deep concern about landslides at the Kumtor gold mine. This is unlikely to be the last we hear on the topic.
Planet Team (2019). Planet Application Program Interface: In Space for Life on Earth. San Francisco, CA. https://www.planet.com/