A landslide in British Columbia caused a 100-meter-high tsunami and triggered an earthquake: study | Energeticcity.ca

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The landslide destroyed salmon spawning habitat for 8.5 kilometers of the creek and sent a plume of mud and organic matter more than 60 kilometers into Bute Inlet, about 150 kilometers from Vancouver, he said. declared.

At the same time as the landslide, a professor from Columbia University in New York measured a magnitude 5 earthquake in this area.

Marten Geertsema, lead author of the paper and assistant professor at the University of Northern British Columbia, said that while the landslide was not the largest in Canada, it was “very, very huge”.

“Imagine a landslide with a mass equal to all the automobiles in Canada moving at a speed of about 140 kilometers per hour when it hits a large lake,” he said during the interview. ‘a meeting.

Geertsema said when the massive landslide fell into a lake below, most of the water was drained and forced into a 10-kilometre-long channel, causing widespread erosion and loss of salmon habitat. . It removed about four million cubic meters of material from the creek in 10 minutes, which would have taken thousands of years if the creek had continued to flow normally, he said.

Professor Brian Menounos, Canada Research Chair in Glacial Change at the University of Northern British Columbia, said several factors came together to cause the slope instability and landslide. .

“What we don’t know is if the last straw that broke the camel’s back, for lack of a better phrase, was a rainstorm or abnormally wet conditions in 2020,” he said. .

What scientists do know, he said, is that the glaciers that covered and held the slopes together are melting at rapid rates due to human-induced climate change, which leaves mountain sides loose and exposed.

Geertsema said the biggest impact of the landslide was on fishing habitat.

The Homalco First Nation contributed to the research and its members co-authored the study released last month, contributing their knowledge of Elliot Creek salmon habitat, he said.

Menounos said landslides are not uncommon and have sculpted the landscape of continents for millennia, including creating or diverting bodies of water and rivers.

However, deglaciation is expected to accelerate landslides, and in some cases scientists have the tools and data to better map the topography beneath glaciers, allowing them to estimate such events, including new lake formations. , did he declare.

“The ability to have maybe half the volume of the lake drained in 10 minutes or less, I mean, that was extremely powerful and disruptive,” Menounos said. “It seems very small, studying things with such power.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on March 30, 2022.

Hina Alam, The Canadian Press


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