The 2022 Chaos Canyon landslide in Colorado: Insights revealed by seismic analysis, field investigations, and remote sensing
An unusual, high-alpine, rapid debris slide originating in ice-rich debris occurred on June 28, 2022, at 16:33:16 MDT at the head of Chaos Canyon, a formerly glacier-covered valley in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO, USA. In this study, we integrate eyewitness videos and seismic records of the event with meteorological data, field observations, pre- and post-event satellite imagery, and uncrewed aircraft vehicle imagery to characterize the event and future hazards it may pose. Deformation of the eventual slide mass preceded rapid failure by decades, starting in the early to mid-2000s, accelerating in 2018 (the warmest year on record), and reaching ~ 20 m/year in 2021. The main event, which was preceded by smaller sliding episodes earlier that day, had a volume of ~ 2.1 million m3, reached peak velocities of about 5 m/s, slid on a surface up to 80 m deep, and moved up to ~ 245 m downslope in < 2 min. We observed blocks of frozen debris (permafrost) in the landslide deposits. Within ~ 2 weeks, these blocks had melted and became dry, conical debris mounds (molards). We hypothesize that the rapid slide was induced by gradually increasing long-term air temperatures that thawed ice and increased pore pressures. The presence and suspected influence of permafrost on the occurrence of this landslide indicate other slopes in the park, and other moderate-to-low latitude alpine regions may experience similar slope stability issues as temperatures continue to warm.
|The 2022 Chaos Canyon landslide in Colorado: Insights revealed by seismic analysis, field investigations, and remote sensing
|Kate E. Allstadt, Jeffrey A. Coe, Elaine Collins, Francis K. Rengers, Anne Mangeney, Scott M. Esser, Jana Pursley, William L. Yeck, John Bellini, Lance R. Brady
|USGS Publications Warehouse
|Geologic Hazards Science Center