Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Mass Wastage Case Studies

Find a natural disaster which has affected humans, preferably related to one of the types of mass wastage studied in class, and which is documented on the internet. This could be a landslide, avalanche, rockslide, mudflow, etc. Avoid tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, seaside erosion, etc., unless they directly include an element of mass wastage (we deal with these elsewhere in the course).

Using the comment feature on this blog post, provide the following:
  1. Name/date of event
  2. Summarize or describe, briefly, the causes and patterns at play for this mass wastage event (origins, physical processes involved)
  3. Summarize or describe, briefly, the significance and impact of the mass wastage event (human cost, affect on cultural features like buildings or roads)
  4. What is your personal response to the source (opinions, reactions, analysis, conclusions)? What would be your plan for prevention or response if you were in charge of emergency services?
  5. Record the Web location (full url) of your source/s (a second source is one way to check for accuracy); do not use wikipedia as a final source (although it is a good start for orienting yourself to the event)


  1. 1. Frank Slide, Alberta at the base of Turtle Mountain in 1901
    2. Base of the mountain is made of coal and rock fragments, and over a long time water began seeping in to cracks causing it to become unstable. Falling on a nearby town of Frank which was bustling due to a opening of a coal mine.
    3. The entrance to a coal mine was blocked thankfully 17 miners were able to escape, 7 houses where buried, outbuildings were destroyed, and tents where wiped out, towns cemetery and power plant where destroyed. 76 people were killed, only 12 bodies were found.
    4. I think they should have realized that there was a chance that there would be mass wastage and that it could have harmed people and property; and then they could have maybe had a plan it happened or prevented it altogether. One way would be making the wastage happen using explosions when no one’s life is in danger.

  2. On August 7 2016 the mudslides triggered by tropical storm called ‘Earl’. Intense rainfall in eastern Mexico caused the hillsides to become extremely saturated which caused then to collapse on themselves and then collapse on local buildings. This storm was the cause of forty people’s deaths, and many residential homes destroyed. This was truly a devastating disaster for everyone however, I don’t know if there is much you can do to prevent it. The mudslide was unforeseen and the only solution would be for when they rebuild, to move the houses further away from where the issue took place.

  3. 1: Whistler Rock Slide July 30, 2008
    2: Due to a long hot period and then 2 days of heavy rainfall. Drastic change in weather causes the failure of the slope. One of the bigger rockslides the Sea to Sky has seen but not the biggest ever.
    3: 75 meters of highway was closed for 5 days causing people not to be able to travel to Whistler etc. This caused people not to be able to get to work from Pemberton to Vancouver also caused the Whistler village to lose profit with the dry business they had.
    4: If I was an emergency responder the first thing I would do is make sure no one was caught under all of the rocks and then from there move on and clean up the roads. To prevent a rock slide along the Sea to Sky It would be hard because the whole road is built into a mountain so you can’t really prevent natural earth procedures.


  4. Qingping debris-flow event, 2010 (result of Sichuan earthquake of 2008)
    After earthquake, abundance of debris present on slopes and gullies. Debris later resulted in rainfall induced debris flows. Plus numerous cracks near earthquake area led to additional landslides and debris flows.
    In the Qingping area, located about 80 km northeast of the epicenter, 50 million m^3 of debris fell onto mouth of gully and destroyed a village resulting in 48 deaths. Many houses were buried as well.
    This event was truly devastating and caused and huge amount of loss. If I were responsible for prevention, there could have been more preparation for debris flows after the earthquake occurred because of the obvious buildup of debris and it’s inevitability to fall. In terms of emergency, I would have first responders on the scene immediately and every hospital in the area prepped for survivors.

  5. Starting in January 2016, California began experiencing heavy amounts of precipitation. They are calling it the El Nino storms and they have been causing many problems. Hail, snow, strong winds, and even 5 inches of rain at a time would attack all at once. Residents have been evacuated due to flash floods multiple times during the year. Such large amounts of rainfall have also created mudslides all over California. Many are worried of nearby hills with scorched slopes becoming hazardous when mixed with rain. Many homes have been damaged because of these events, directly affecting the people in the area. The 5 freeway was also closed as a direct result from these events. I believe that everything seemed so catastrophic as an area like California was not prepared. California had been experiencing a drought which means they would not have expected such vast amounts of precipitation. If I were to be responsible for prevention I would have tried to plan for the rain. California wasn’t going to be in a drought forever so it would have made sense to be more prepared. Flood prevention would have been a large help.


  6. Cameron Findlay Bangladesh Landslide November 2, 2106

    On June 27th, 2012 in Bangladesh, there was a landslide and other floods that killed over 100 people in the southeastern distracts of Chittagong, Cox’s Bazaar, Bandarban. More than 250,000 people were affected by this disaster. These landslides and floods were caused by torrential rain fall the week before the disasters. Some trains were cancelled and postponed due to the landslides and multiple floods which also damaged over 360,000 homes and 230,000 areas of crops were damaged. And a grand total of 50,778 people in these areas were evacuated to 246 shelters. The sources I used didn’t really give me the cost of the damages and the emergency services but it gave me some good numbers on how many people were displaced and how many homes were damaged so I thought it was a decent source, it wasn’t Wikipedia but I still answered the question. There was no preventing this disaster because you can’t really stop rain fall, but for relief services I would have just gotten as many people out of there as possible, so the people could at least get water and food since these 3rd world countries get water from wells or rivers and I’m betting those people had no access to that good H20.

  7. Jenna
    1. Fairmont Mudslide. July 15th 2012

    2. A small creek that runs down through the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort formed a natural dam causing water to back up eventually resulting in a overflow. Once the water being released from the dam came down the canyon into the resort.

    3. In result of the mudslide many nearby homes were evacuated including the entire Hot Springs Resort. Millions of dollars of damage done to the Resort. Closing of Highway 93/95 in both directions for many hours along with other small transportation roads. One person had to be airlifted to safety, as well as an RCMP helicopter being brought in to transport people across the mudslide if necessary. Heavy equipment brought to patch together the covered roads and to push big boulders out of the way.

    4. If I was in charge of the emergency services my first concern would be for the safety of the guests of the big resort as well as people living nearby. Making sure all the people are accounted for which they were. To then move on to the environmental impact and resolving it. The overflow of the water could’ve maybe been noticed sooner coming to a solution for prevention of the overflow of water. Building a bigger dam, reconstructing the natural dam or another solution.


  8. Mark Timms
    Bingham Canyon Copper mine landslide

    1: On April 10, 2013, a towering wall of dirt and rocks gave way and crashed down the side of Bingham Canyon mine in Utah. It was one of the largest landslides in the history of North America. The cause for the landslide was slope failure them building a road on the side of the hill and they didn’t have that strong material on the hill they had not trees making the ground stronger and the dirt was not compacted as well as it could’ve been, the dirt was dug up and not the best for stabilizing a road. The mine lost around US$79 million to this landslide; they expected to earn US$701 million that year. It took away a lot of jobs but also gained a lot for the cleanup of the mine. It destroyed a lot of buildings and equipment they used for the mine. No one was hurt because they installed the interferometry radar system months before the event that made it possible to detect subtle changes in the stability of the pit’s walls. They saw the landslide coming before it even happened and evacuated everyone so no one got hurt at all it will just cost them quite a bit to clean and fix the mine. I think it was a crazy event and happened pretty fast they saw the hill sliding slowing and increasing every day. Building a better more stable road for the big heavy equipment to use and I would just keep the interferometry radar system because it worked very well and they evacuated everyone out of the mine very fast and no one got hurt.

  9. “Largest Avalanche Ever” Graham.
    1. On May 31st, 1970, the “Ancash” earthquake in the ocean near Peru destabilized the north side of Mt. Husascaran.
    2. This caused the biggest recorded avalanche in history. 8o million cubic feet of mud, ice, rock and snow to cascaded 15 kilometers down Mt. Huascaran towards the small towns Yungay and Ranrahirca, Peru. The earthquake lasted 45 seconds, and the avalanche took three minutes to hit the base and the towns below. Visually, it really looks like half the mountain just dropped away by the impact of Ancash.
    3. It is estimated that this particular avalanche killed around 20 000 people and caused 250 million in property damage. Supposedly, only 92 people managed to survive. The government of Peru has outlawed the excavation of the buried town and the surrounding area, and a small sort of tribute town is active nearby.
    4. My personal response to this is that it is clearly a huge tragedy, but it happened in the 70s and it all happened so quickly that there couldn’t have been any way of warning the town of the coming disaster. Further, there may not have been a way to tell that the Mountain would have been destabilized so drastically. A good way to prevent all these deaths in the future would be to invest in better disaster response technology and methods, also evacuations of towns when earthquakes or related disasters are happening.
    5. Sources:,_Peru

  10. 1999 Galtür Avalanche, Austria

    Avalanches occur when snow and ice (sometimes rocks) suddenly give way and fall down a mountain or slope. This usually happen after heavy storms in the area. The failure is caused by a weak underlying layer of snow being unable to support the heavy snow on top.

    This event occurred in the thought to be safe village of Galtür, Austria in 1999. It is significant because even though the village is in a relatively “safe zone” (yellow zone) it was hit hard by the avalanche. This avalanche was caused by a severe storm that built up a record amount of snow in the mountain. When this snow broke free it caused a 50 metre wall of snow that travelled into the town killing 31 people, destroying cars and damaging buildings. The steep slope of the mountain caused the avalanche to travel at great speeds, further enhancing its path of destruction. This avalanche caused a drastic decrease in tourism in the area from fear of avalanches.

    I think the area should now be better prepared for a disaster like this in the future. The town should be equipped with warnings to evacuate when a huge storm like this hits the area as it is known that it may cause a devastating avalanche. Money should also be spent in reinforcing buildings to make them avalanche proof and adding barriers to stop the flow reaching the village causing damage in the future.