Dam collapse in South Africa has left behind devastation • Earth.com

Dam collapse in South Africa has left behind devastation

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features the aftermath of a dam collapse in Jagersfontein, South Africa. After the dam collapsed at a diamond mine on September 11, 2022, a watery mixture of mining waste – or “tailings” – was released. 

“The sludge poured across the landscape, destroying homes, inundating rivers and grazing land, and injuring dozens,” says NASA. “Almost one month after the incident, satellite images show that the landscape remains altered by the coating of sludge.”

“As the water receded, it left behind white and tan deposits. The lightest areas in this image are likely dried tailings and mud. Notice that the banks of the Prosesspruit appear wider after being eroded and damaged by the flood.”

The image was captured on October 4, 2022 by the Operational Land Imager-2 (OLI-2) on Landsat 9.

The breach through which most of the tailings poured out is visible on the southern side of the dam. 

“According to news reports, the flood destroyed more than 160 homes, killed at least one person and hundreds of animals, and damaged more than 26 square kilometers (10 square miles) of grazing land,” says NASA.

“It remains to be seen how long the muck will persist. As the material dries out and hardens it could begin to blow away with the wind or be washed away by rains.”

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer

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