This shocking documentary looks at one of nature’s most lethal phenomena and what scientists can do to predict future disasters.
On a sunny Saturday morning in March 2014, residents of the small community of Oso in the mountains of Washington state were enjoying their morning coffee, when a distant roar interrupted the routine. It was the terrifying sound of what would become the United States’ deadliest landslide in decades. The destruction claimed 43 lives as an area of almost half a square mile was covered in debris to a depth of over 30 feet. So what caused the destruction of Oso and what steps can be taken to forewarn people of similar catastrophes? Geologists are now tracing the history of Oso, from the deposition of loose sand and gravel during the last Ice Age to modern-day logging, to explain why the site was so unstable. All around the world, however, scientists have reason to fear that the worst is yet to come. The largest loss of life due to a landslide occurred in Afghanistan in May 2014, when an estimated 400 people were buried alive, while in the Himalayas the threat remains omnipresent. It is believed that climate change may be partly responsible for the increase in topographical instability. The programme details the latest scientific research into landslides and how new satellite monitoring technologies are offering some hope that we may be able to predict them in the future.
Airs Wednesday September 21st at 9:00.