28 July 2021
Drone footage of the 31 May 2021 landslide at Bingham Canyon mine in Utah
On 31 May 2021 a large landslide occurred at the Bingham Canyon mine in Utah. Bingham Canyon is famous for the enormous 2013 landslide; fortunately this event was on a smaller scale, although it was far from trivial.
In the last week drone footage of the landslide has been posted to Youtube:-
The video starts with the rear scarps of the slide block clearly defined. At Bingham Canyon there is a sophisticated monitoring programme for the slopes, so the failure was anticipated and all of the key assets had been removed from danger. It is interesting to note the drilling that had been undertaken through the area that failed, possibly in anticipation of blasting? I am not an expert by any means of open pit mining operations.
The failure appears to initiate as a translational slide:
Note how the surface of the main block remains approximately horizontal. At the rear a smaller block starts to fail slightly later than the main block. This slice rapidly fragments as it loses support from the main block. Thereafter the entire landslide slowly fragments and, eventually, becomes engulfed in dust. Small secondary failures develop across the scar of the landslide.
This is one of the most impressive failures caught on video to date. That the drone team were in place suggests that the mine had correctly predicted not just the location of the landslide but also its timing. The result is an excellent case study.
Incidentally, there is a book about the 2013 landslide, entitled Rise to the Occasion by Brad Ross. It is, unfortunately, very expensive. Has anyone here read it? Is it worth a read?