North America’s Biggest Landslide In 30 Years Went Completely Unnoticed

Image: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
In the middle of the Alaskan wilderness, things can shift on a magnificent, Earth-shattering scale, and none of us are any the wiser.

By Melissa Cronin|MOTHERBOARD

One such event occurred last October, when 200 million metric tons of rock—the equivalent to the weight of 1,104,972 blue whales—slid off the side of a remote mountain in Southeast Alaska, sending debris flying and launching a tsunami large enough to be measured by a tidal gauge nearly 100 miles away.

Only after the fact, with the aid of scientific equipment, have researchers been able to detect the event, reports The Alaska Dispatch News, despite the fact that the landslide is one of the world’s largest in recent years—as well as the largest in North America since 1980.

The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University posted photos of the rockslide to its Facebook page last week, including an aerial shot of an island six miles away. The photo shows that the powerful tsunami was strong enough to strip away the island’s trees.

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