28 June 2022
Always fly with the window blinds up: the West Salt Creek landslide
Over the last couple of weeks I have been in the USA and Canada in a series of meetings. The trip involved a fair amount of flying – not the easiest thing to do at the moment, but that’s a different story. On one leg I flew from the East to the West coast in a day time flight.
The USA is a stunningly beautiful country, so a long transcontinental flight is a treat. I am always slightly depressed that most people fly with the window blinds up – indeed on this flight the majority of the blinds were closed from boarding to landing. I was staring out the window when, by complete coincidence, I saw this:-
This is the failure that has become known as the West Salt Creek landslide, which occurred in Colorado on 25 May 2014. I was able to get a better image of the landslide:-
The landslide has been described in detail in a report published by the Colorado Geological Survey (White et al. 2015). The slide is about 4.5 km in length, involving 29 million cubic metres of rock and debris. It is estimated that the landslide reached a peak velocity of 72 km/h. Secondary failures increased the volume to about 55 million cubic metres.
Sadly three men – Wes Hawkins, Clancy Nichols and Danny Nichols – were killed in the landslide. Their remains have not been recovered from the site.
On the same trip I saw two other features of interest. First is this large tailings facility:-
And second is this fascinating ancient landslide in the mountains:-
I’m sure that this ancient landslide has been studied properly – does anyone know the details? I would love to visit.
White, J.L., Morgan, M.L. and Berry, K.A. 2015. The West Salt Creek Landslide: A Catastrophic Rockslide and Rock/Debris Avalanche in Mesa County. Colorado Colorado Geological Survey, 45 pp.