British Columbia 2020 Cascading Hazards Event Research Paper Released
British Columbia is no stranger to landslides, but one landslide in particular in 2020 caused what scientists call a cascade of hazards.
A team of international researchers from the University of Northern British Columbia, the British Columbia Ministry of Forests and the Homalco First Nation has documented this massive domino effect.
Seismic instruments as far away as Australia detected the event on November 28, 2020, which saw 50 million tonnes of rock fall from a steep mountain and hit Elliot Lake (near the central coast of British Columbia) .
“Imagine a landslide with a mass equal to all automobiles in Canada, moving at a speed of about 140 kilometers per hour as it empties into a large lake,” said Dr. Marten Geertsema, adjunct professor at UNBC’s Ecosystem Science and Management. Program.
“The landslide displaced enough water to cause a tsunami with wave heights exceeding 100 meters. This drained most of the water from the lake which then traveled through a 10 km long channel, causing widespread channel erosion and loss of salmon habitat.
When asked if studying and researching this would lead to better predictions of landslides, Geertsema noted that this is a tricky process, but said technology is advancing and we we are improving from the past.
Dr Brian Menounos, a geography professor at UNBC, said part of the reason for the landslide was due to retreating glaciers.
“It’s really good that over the last 50 to 70 years, as the glaciers retreat rapidly, they expose these steep and unstable slopes. In some cases, these slopes may fail.