Dave Petley, Executive Director of IHRR and Director of the International Landslide Centre, investigates the deadly landslide that occurred in Papua New Guinea that has killed at least 25 people in the South Pacific country. The landslide may have been caused by excavations from Exxon Mobil for their $15.7 billion gas project in the area.
Astute readers will have seen that Reuters yesterday ran a syndicated story about the Tumbi Quarry landslide, and the implications for Exxon-Mobil, which was picked up by many mainstream media outlets (e.g. the Guardian today). This blog is quoted in the article. With rather fortunate timing, a few days ago I have received an image of what I am reasonably sure is the site prior to the landslide (compare the features outside the landslide area with the images in this post). I will blog on this properly later today, but as a taster here is the image. I think that this image probably predates the most recent quarry expansion, and may therefore be at least a year old.
At this point I’ll draw your attention to a couple of interesting points. First, there is a number of what appears to be shallow slips – see locations a and b below:
Second, in the unvegetated areas above the quarry scarp are some rather peculiar features running across the hillside (marked c below):
Note the excavator (?) at the toe of the quarry slope, which provides scale. These features on the hillslope might be footpaths, but if so they are very well-trodden.
Comments and interpretations welcome. More later!
The Tumbi Quarry landslide – an initial forensic examination of the images. The Landslide Blog