16 July 2021
Inden: a river rediscovering a previous course and flooding an open cast coal mine
The floods in Germany, Belgium and Netherlands this week have been truly catastrophic. The same storm system also caused flash flooding in London. It is likely that the this event will have triggered landslides, but we will need to wait to get more information when the priority is rescue and recovery. There are suggestions that an event has killed several people near to Cologne, but we await further information.
In the meantime, my attention has been drawn to a very interesting event at Inden in Germany, the site of a very large open cast coal mine. Here, the extreme rainfall has caused a small river to change course, partially flooding the mine. It is worth taking a moment to review the events. The Google Earth Image below shows the site – I have annotated the key features:-
The pertinent features here are the small river flowing towards the north from the bottom of the image, and then swinging around to flow twowards the west (presumably rerouted around the mine), An abandoned river channel is clear, with a large bend around the building:-
In the rainstorms of 14 July 2021 the small river has burst its banks and reoccupied its former course. The effects are dramatic. This video captures the huge erosion that has occurred as the flood has occupied, and down-cut, its channel:
The floods happening all over germany right now are insane.
A the open coal mining operation in Inden for example, the entire river Inde has re-directed itself back into its former riverbed, and into the pit. They'll have a very nice lake soon that you can sail your boat on. pic.twitter.com/2sysznsM4P
— Cheetahs Gonna Cheet (@cheetah_spotty) July 15, 2021
The water has flowed into a very large open cast coal mine, causing serious damage. There are videos on Twitter showing thgis in action:
Bursted in inden, the river 'inde' floating into coal mine.. Which is filled in 24 hours pic.twitter.com/IYH4gAFxjb
— Jana Schiffer (@SchifferJana) July 15, 2021
— #Hambi bleibt (@DanniPilger) July 15, 2021
For a river to change channel during a flood is not unusual. In this case, the base level of the channel has been reset by the mining operations. The erodible materials then allowed the river to down-cut, creating the new, deeply incised watercourse.
The European floods are another example of global heating playing out in real time with tangible impacts. The last few years have demonstrated that regional effects are already intense, generating extreme temperatures and extreme rainfall, with a lot more heating baked into the system. I can only add my agreement to that of others, as expressed in a BBC article today – we don’t know exactly how much trouble we are in, but we do know that it’s very bad indeed.