Enormous and Catastrophic Glacier Collapse and Mudflow near Machu Picchu, Peru (Video)


On 23 February, 2020 an enormous, catastrophic debris flow tore down the Salkantay River in Santa Teresa, Peru.

This cataclysmic event has killed at least four people, with a further 13 reported to be missing. Given the magnitude of the flow, this number is probably uncertain.

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Destruction after enormous and deadly mudflow in Salkantay Valley near Machu Pichu in Peru. Picture: Peru21

Over the last 24 hours more information has become available about the Salkantay landslide and mudflow.

The triggering event is being described as an ice / rock avalanche with an initial volume of 400,000 cubic metres.

This has clearly bulked up to form a mudflow with a much higher volume, presumably through entrainment of ice and saturated debris in the channel.

This is similar to the Seti River rock avalanche and debris in Nepal in 2014, which also had devastating effects.

On Twitter, Julio Montenegro G. has posted an interpretation of the event, based upon an image of the scar, which has then been located on pre-event imagery

I am not sure as to the origin of the image that shows the scar of the initial failure, but a better version was posted to Twitter by Turismo Peru:

If this is indeed the scar then my interpretation is that this is a classic wedge failure in the rock mass, with a near vertical fall onto the ice and moraine at the toe of the slope.

The rock slope would have been a mixture of rock and ice, both on the surface and within fractures.

On impact the mass has probably fragmented to form an ice / rock avalanche, which has then entrained debris and ice / snow / water, transitioning to become the mudflow seen in the videos.

The site of the rock / ice avalanche at Salkantay in Peru.
The site of the rock / ice avalanche at Salkantay in Peru. Picture via Diario Correo

This has behaved in a manner that is akin to a lahar, with a large volume, high velocity and long runout. This event is reminiscent of the 2012 Gayari ice and rock avalanche in Pakistan and the 2017 Villa Santa Lucia landslide in Chile.

Reports suggest that Salkantay Cocha lake remains intact, but that waves within the lake, generated by the landslide, have caused some erosion of the moraine dam. This now needs to be monitored.

There are of course some real human tragedies in this disaster. The estimated human cost appears to be 13 people. More natural disaster news on Strange Sounds and Steve Quayle. [Landslide Blog]

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1 Comment

  1. And to think that LITTLE TINY mudflow caused all that chaos….

    Imagine what it might have been like… how bad it would have been… during Noah’s Flood!!!!

    Grand Canyon Created…. et al…. in just a few days… as opposed to the EXPERTS/SCIENTISTS/ARCHAEOLOGIST’s/Evolutionist’s et al….. “Billions Of Years!!!”

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