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What is a landslide dam?


Landslide dams include any blockage of a watercourse (stream, river, etc.) caused by the movement of material downslope. Often, but not always, the landslides are triggered by large earthquakes, such as occurred during the Kaikoura 2016 earthquake.

Many dams are slowly eroded by seepage through the dam or cut down after overtopping by the lake formed behind it. However, the dam can breach rapidly, and the associated discharge can pose risk to infrastructure and people, flooding and damage to the area downstream. Despite the potentially devastating consequences, landslide dams and breaches are poorly researched and understood. For more information go here

The remains of the Conway landslide dam and reservoir generated by the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake. The slope on the left failed and dammed the river. The river has since cut down through the dam forming a steep channel. The remains of the reservoir that formed behind the dam are just visible upstream of the failed dam channel.

The video shows the remains of the Conway landslide dam and the slope failure

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