Thursday, 13 December 2018

VIDEO: Landslides Training in Scotland... by Cath Pennington

In October, a few of us spent a week in the beautiful Scottish Highlands looking at landslides and we've made a video about it.  The trip was just after with a period of very heavy rain that triggered some debris flows that closed the A83 Rest And Be Thankful Pass where these types of landslide are a regular occurrence.

Staff attending the training week had a range of different expertise and were mostly from the Landslides Team in Keyworth and Quaternary Geologists from our Edinburgh office. These are two groups of people trained to look at the landscape in different ways.

The idea was for the Landslides Team to get a better understanding of the Scottish geology - a complex beast that can produce different landslides to those elsewhere in the UK - and for the Quaternary Geologists to further their expertise in landslides, especially debris flows.

Debris Flows

These landslides are defined by Ballantyne (2004) as:
the rapid down-slope flow of poorly-sorted debris mixed with water.
Debris flows are a particular problem in Scotland.  Their biggest impact is to cut across roads and railways that can leave communities isolated and important routes blocked.  Perhaps the most famous repeated site of debris flows is the Rest And Be Thankful Pass where the closure of the road results in a 55-mile detour.

Dr Claire Dashwood and Dr Nikhil Nedumpallile Vasu comparing the debris flows that happened in 2007 with that from October 2018
Dr Claire Dashwood, Engineering Geohazard Geologist, and Dr Nikhil Nedumpallile Vasu, Engineering
Geologist, comparing the debris flows that happened in 2007 with that from October 2018
How we put debris flows on our maps is something we are working on at the moment and this produced a lot of discussion in the field.  We also used the examples we visited to help us consider our GeoSure Debris Flow Model, a map that provides information on the potential of the ground to form a debris flow.

Stood at the top of Glen Our with landslides on our minds, shame about the mist
Stood at the top of Glen Our with landslides on our minds, shame about the mist

Debating the geology, the geomorphology, the palaeoenvironmental history and ... just a lot of debating!

The topographic map of the area
The topographic map of the area

More discussion and debate

Found it!  Comparing debris flows from different years at the Rest and Be Thankful Pass.  We are stood on the other side of the valley which is a great vantage point to see how the slope is behaving.
Found it!  Comparing debris flows from different years at the Rest and Be Thankful Pass.  We are stood on the other side
of the valley which is a great vantage point to see how the slope is behaving.

Beautiful Scotland
Beautiful Scotland

The training course was well received by everyone attending and has opened the door to plenty of collaborative work that can only be beneficial to everyone.  We even came across this: Landslide beer!  It was named after the debris flow that blocked the road near the brewery, but also because of the repeated debris flows on the A83 that leave the brewery cut off.  The initial debris flow is documented in our National Landslide Database (17693/1) as well as many of the others on the Rest and Be Thankful Pass.

Landslide beer!  Named after a debris flow that blocked the road near the brewery




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