Attabad landslide

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ACE Internal Seminar Series

Case Study of a Mega Landslide: Attabad Landslide, North Pakistan
Speaker: Ghazanfar Khattak
Chair: Professor Petterson
Location: Lecture Theatre 4, Bennett Building (Maps and directions available)
Time: 13:00-14:00, Wednesday, 7 March 2012
Audience: All staff and students at the University of Leicester and De Montfort University are welcome to attend. Please email us in advance to confirm your attendance. Thank you.
View/Download: a copy of the event poster (pdf)


In 2010, a massive landslide occurred at Attabad in the Upper Hunza Valley of north Pakistan. The landslide was a rock avalanche of approximately 23 x 106 cubic meters in volume.

Photos and video footage of the landslide is available via the NASA Visible Earth catalogue: Landslide Lake in Northwest Pakistan, 04 January 2010, and the NASA Earth Observatory

The avalanche buried the village of Attabad Payeen, dammed the Hunza River drainage area which quickly filled to maximum depth and created a new lake, damaged a three kilometre stretch of the Karakoram Highway, and left 25,000 people completely cut off from the rest of the country. Nineteen people died and many houses were destroyed.

The casual slope failure occurred along the steep valley slope without an obvious triggering event. The main landslide body was composed of boulders of granodiorite of the Karakoram batholith dislodged from jointed bedrock along the valley slope, mixed with a locally-derived matrix of recent sediments. The avalanche deposit travelled 1.5km down-slope and climbed up-mountain on the opposite side of the river to a height of 200m above the valley floor.

Blockage of the river flow resulted in impounding of water inundating a vast area upstream. A series of post-landslide satellite images and ground data suggests that the lake is still growing upstream and is a potential hazard for populations and infrastructures downstream. The onset of summer glacial melting with associated landslides and avalanches upstream in the drainage basin may increase the lake level leading to dam-burst and downstream flooding events.

Historical precedence demonstrates that all Indus Valley natural dams created over the past 200 years were breached within one year of formation. Therefore, it has been suggested that controlled blasting could mitigate any future hazard by avoiding maximum discharge from the lake.

Please email us in advance to confirm your attendance. All staff and students of the University of Leicester and De Montfort University are welcome to attend. This event is free of charge.

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Contact Details

College of Science and Engineering
Physics Building
University of Leicester 
Tel: 0116 252 3497