1 January 2021

The scale of the Gjerdrum landslide: a helicopter video

Posted by Dave Petley

The scale of the Gjerdrum landslide: a helicopter video

Tonight there is news that a body has been recovered from the site of the Gjerdrum landslide in Norway.  This comes after search teams were able to access the site today to undertake the search for the missing people.  With the discovery of a victim the number of missing people is now nine; there is still some hope that they might find survivors, but hopes are clearly fading given the combination of the weather and time.

I have often noted that people who have not been involved in these sorts of accidents find it hard to understand why rescues cannot occur more quickly.  In part this is of course the need to protect the rescuers – there are many documented examples in which secondary landslides have cost lives, sometimes of those brave people involved in the rescue operations.  But this is also because the scale of the affected area can be very large, meaning that the search process is difficult.

Both of these issues are in play here.  This landslide site is very big indeed.  Yesterday, NGI released a helicopter video taken of the landslide site.  The video is quite long, but I recommend watching the whole thing.  You will see that the landslide extends over a large distance, and is wide as well:-


The image below shows just a small part of the landslide mass that needs to be searched.  Bear in mind too that the material is extremely weak, so moving around it will be very challenging.  And of course at this time of year daylight in Norway is fleeting:-

A small part of the Gjerdrum landslide in Norway

A small part of the Gjerdrum landslide in Norway. Still from a video posted to Youtube by NGI.


Meanwhile, in other news:

  • The search, which is being assisted by experts from Sweden, has been suspended for the night as it is too dangerous to work on the site in the dark;
  • Small landslides are continuing to occur on the margins of the failure, with more properties likely to be lost;
  • There are some reports that a second dog has been rescued from the site

Of course on these occasions our thoughts must go to those who are missing, and to their families – for them this will be unbearable.  But also spare a thought for the rescue teams and for the technical experts who are working with them.  They will be under immense pressure as this continues, in the full glare of the media.  There are many victims of these events, some less obvious than others.