30 September 2022
Landslides in the 1960s
As I was writing my blog post earlier this week about the 1961 Kurenivka mudslide in Ukraine, I was pondering the number of large landslide disasters that occurred in the 1960s. Based on no scientific analysis at all, it seems that this was a period of remarkable landslide accidents. So, I decided that it would be interesting to begin the process of putting together a list. This is what I have come up with so far:
- The M=9.4 22 May 1960 Valdivia Earthquake in Chile, the most powerful seismic event in instrumented history, which triggered huge numbers of landslides, including the valley blocking landslide at Riñihuazo.
- The 3 February 1961 Jupille landslide in Belgium, a fly ash failure that killed 11 people.
- The 13 March 1961 Kurenivka mudslide in Ukraine, which killed about 1,500 people
- The 10 January 1962 Huascarán landslide, in which 13 million cubic metres of rock and ice detached from Nevados Huascarán in Peru, killing an estimated 4,000 people. This was followed by a second, larger, event in 1970.
- The 9 October 1963 Vajont landslide, in which a 260 million cubic metre failure on the flanks of Mount Toc sent a huge wave over the crest of the Vajont dam, killing 1,917 people.
- The M=9.2 27 March 1964 Great Alaskan Earthquake, which triggered a large number of landslides. In the city of Valdez, 32 people were killed by a landslide that caused the collapse of the harbour and docks. In the Turnagan neighbourhood, 75 houses were destroyed by landslides.
- The 9 January 1965 Hope Landslide in Canada, which has an estimated volume of 47 million cubic metres. The remote location meant that only four people were killed.
- The 28 March 1965 El Cobre tailings dam failure in Chile, which killed over 200 people.
- The 2 January 1966 Rio de Janeiro landslides in Brazil, which killed at least 114 people. Some reports indicate that the final toll may have been about 250 people. The USGS suggests it may have been about 1,000 people.
- The 21 October 1966 Aberfan landslide in Wales, in which 144 people, the majority of whom were children, were killed by the failure of a coal waste tip.
- The 22-23 January 1967 Rio de Janeiro and Serra Das Araras landslides, which the USGS estimates killed 1,700 people.
- The 20 March 1967 landslides at Caraguatatuba in Brazil, which killed 120 people.
- The October 1968 Darjeeling landslides. It is estimated that heavy rainfall triggered over 20,000 landslides, killing thousands of people.
- The 17 August 1968 debris flow at Hida in Japan, win which two buses were lost, killing 104 people.
I am sure that there are many more disasters in the 1960s – please let me know what I have missed. Notable in the above list is the series of landslides that were caused by earthquakes, including the huge events in Chile and Alaska, and landslides caused by technological failures (including Kurenivka, Jupille, Vajont, El Cobre and Aberfan). These series of events through the decade were instrumental in the scientific work in the following decades that has led to our current understanding of landslides.