Landslide at Knappensee, Germany causes 1.5-meter-high tsunami wave (video)

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On Thursday 11 March 2021, a large landslide occurred on the banks of an abandoned and flooded open case coal mine site at Knappensee in eastern Germany, creating a large tsunami wave that damaged several buildings on the other side of the lake…

Knappensee landslide tsunami, Knappensee landslide tsunami video, Knappensee landslide tsunami march 2021
Knappensee landslide tsunami. MDR/xcitepress

The event was captured on a remarkable video that has been posted to Youtube. This video starts with an orientation problem that is soon resolved:

Judging by news reports, the banks of the Knappensee have been undergoing remediation to allow the site to become a recreation attraction.

This bank had been undergoing work recently and was a site with known geotechnical problems. The unslipped areas in the image above have little or no vegetation, suggesting engineering works since the last growing season.

Knappensee landslide tsunami, Knappensee landslide tsunami video, Knappensee landslide tsunami march 2021
Drone picture of the avalanche location that triggered the 1.5-meter-high tsunami wave at Knappensee, Germany on March 11, 2021.

As reported by MDR.de:

The landslide at Knappensee was probably triggered by renovation work in the bank area. Experts from the Saxon Mining Authority have come to this conclusion. In the past few weeks, the first careful security measures have been carried out in this area. Among other things, dump material has been removed and work has been prepared in the bank area, said the Mining Authority. This was also the case on the day of the landslide, which is why this work is suspected to be the trigger.

The landslide appears to have been retrogressive, starting with a small failure at the toe. That in turn may have been triggered by a slip under the water, but that is speculation at this point. The final scar is reported to be 500 m by 200 m.

Knappensee landslide tsunami, Knappensee landslide tsunami video, Knappensee landslide tsunami march 2021
Damage on the other side of the lake after tsunami triggered landsline at Knappensee in Germany. Picture via Lausitznews

The landslide generated a displacement wave – reported to be about 1.5 meters high. Whilst this would be small in a marine environment, in a non-tidal lake this is significant event. This tsunami damaged properties on the other side of the lake

The level of the lake has been raised by 32 cm as a result of the landslide. This is now being lowered, but slowly because of the fear that rapid drawdown will trigger further instability.

Nothing in comparison with the 1958 Lituya Bay, Alaska megatsunami… But more closer to this event in Iceland about a year ago… [Landslide Blog, MDR]

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