Earlier in February severe rain caused the Oroville Dam in Sacramento to reach capacity. The dam is an earth fill dam approximately 770 feet high, making it one of the tallest dams of this type in the Country. On February 11, water began flowing over the emergency spillway, which prior to that point had never been used, and caused erosion at the base of the weir, threatening to undermine the wall at the top of the spillway and potentially cause a catastrophic failure of the dam. Local police officials ordered a massive evacuation of residents downstream of the dam. The dam didn't fail and this week flow across the main spillway was stopped to allow officials time to evaluate the damage. The LA Times article linked below has a good summary of many of the issues that led to this crisis. And this article discusses the most recent developments with the shutting off of the flow at the spillway to evaluate damage. [Source: Read more about the Oroville Dam at LA Times. Image: USA Today]
According to the site Geotechpedia, this tunnel failure occurred on November 29, 2016 around 9am (local time?). The tunnel is located in Yusufeli district of Erzurum in northeastern Turkey. It is somehow related to the Yusufeli dam. There were no reports of fatalities. [Source: YouTube via Geotechpedia. Image: YouTube]
Taiwanese investigators have arrested the developer of a 17-story apartment building that collapsed in an earthquake at the beginning of the month. Approximately 40 people were killed when the building collapsed, there were only two other deaths in the entire city. The charges are suspicion of criminal business misconduct resulting in fatalities. Mainland China has been notorious for shoddy construction practices, and those practices have been blamed for the death of thousands in Sichuan Province during the 2008 earthquake. [Source: The New York Times via Geoengineer.org. Image: Anthony Wallace/Agence France-Presse â€” Getty Images via NY Times]
The source website is calling this some kind of 'reverse sinkhole', which is definitely not the case. The article says there was a period of very heavy rain for about 11 days before this happened, with some areas seeing rainfall intensity up to 6.7 inches in 12 hours. It sounds like the water table rose to very close to the surface and buoyant forces pushed the pool out. The building inspector called it a 'popped pool'. [Source: Go see a video of this poor homeowners's pool at Weathernetwork.com via Geoengineer.org. Image: WFLA.com]
Plaintiffs whose homes were destroyed by the Yeager Airport Landslide in March of 2015 filed a suit naming Central Regional West Virginia Airport Authority and Triad Engineering as well as several others. The CRWVAA and Triad have filed answers to the complaint, and two other plaintiff have filed motions to dismiss themselves from the lawsuit according the the West Virginia Record. Apparently Triad was monitoring the mechanically stabilized earth retention structure as far back as 2013 when cracks were observed. In July of 2014, 28 monitoring points were installed. According to the complaint, every one of the 28 indicated movement between July and August of 2014. That strikes me as odd. Why no mention of movement after that point? Maybe there is more in the actual complaint, but having done that type of monitoring before, I wonder if there were survey issues? I think one take-away here for me is to put some monitoring points outside the potential zone of movement so you can verify that your measurements are accurate. At any rate, the article describes what Triad and the Airport Authority Board knew or didn't know. This is interesting to me, but there is a lot of legal jargon in the article. So if you have any additional interpretations of what it says, let me know with a comment below! [Source: Read more in the West Virginia Record. Image: West Virginia Record]
The couple owning a house up-slope from a massive 2014 landslide is accused of overwatering their lawn, leading to the landslide in a lawsuit filed by the developer. The developer also blames a natural gas company, and some other nearby construction, but had denied any responsibility for the slide. In a countersuit, the two homeowners say they are being scapegoated and blame a natural gas company that owns and operates two pipelines near the slide, two geotech firms that studied the land prior to further development and the local tennis club for expanding a parking lot at the base of the hill. This sounds like a completely tangled up mess!
[Source: Daily Mail Online. Image: Associated Press via The Daily Mail]
A private homeowner's retaining wall experienced a major failure near Colorado Springs, causing the evacuation of several families. According to KKTV, the homeowner obtained a permit to construct a 20 foot high retaining wall, however the wall stands at 36 feet high. As of Memorial Day, the three evacuated families have been allowed to return to their homes. The wall has now "completely fallen down." The original failure occurred after a period of heavy rain in the region. [Source: Read more at KKTV.com (Colorado Springs) via USGS Landslide Events. Image: CBS]
There was a significant slope failure at the Yeager Airport near Charleston, West Virginia last week. A 2005 project to create an Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS) at the end of the runway required a massive reinforced soil structure fill slope over 200 feet high since the airport was constructed on top of a hill. According to a presentation published by the geogrid manufacturer, this project was the tallest known geosynthetic reinforced 1:1 fill slope in North America (as of 2010). The slope failure follows a period of significant snow melt and rainfall. It is a deep-seated failure, apparently a compound failure that cuts through the reinforcement based on one of the photos available in the Charleston Daily Mail article cited in the article at the Landslide Blog. I'm sure there will be much more information about this massive failure in the coming months.
This is a different perspective on landslides than what I usually blog about on GeoPrac. This banking and insurance website blog post discusses what should and shouldn't be covered on a car owner's insurance policy. Several cars parked along the road were damaged after a retaining wall / slope failure in Baltimore last month. [Source: Read the blog post at Bankrate, Inc.. Image: CBS Baltimore]
A dramatic retaining wall failure and subsequent landslide last week damaged several cars and shut down a rail line in Baltimore, Maryland. The final failure was caught on video by a bystander. The landslide forced a number of residents to be evacuated from their homes.
A developer will pay $3.2 million in damages plus $3.9 million in legal fees and expenses to the owner of a property that sustained structural damage related to the shoring of the developer's adjacent 17 story apartment building in Bethesda, Maryland. Apparently the developer settled with the owner regarding the damages 4 days before trial in December of 2013. The details of the settlement were released in a court order last week that was associated with a hard-fought battle over the legal fees. There are undoubtedly other legal and insurance issues happening behind the scenes. The article indicates that the foundation and shoring subcontractor on the project claims the damage was caused by the August 2011 earthquake felt throughout the D.C. region. Regardless of what the geotechnical engineering issues are with the shoring system, it's clear this has become quite a legal mess. [Source: BethesdaNow. Image: BethesdaNow]
This retaining wall failure occurred in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2009. The failure was caught on video, albeit with a crappy camera phone. But it's well worth a look! Dave Petley of the Landslide Blog also tracked down an article on the original failure. It's the usual case of chicken or the egg. Did the water pipe failure cause the wall to fail, or did the wall fail and then cause the pipe to fail. Thanks to my colleague Bob Cummings of Saguaro Geoservices for sending this my way.