Last update: June 26th, 2019 at 12:46 pm
The headline of a Nepali Times story that ran in the wake of the earthquake that struck central Nepal on April 25, 2015, said it all. “Langtang is gone,” it read. The small village, which was located along a popular trekking route near the base of Mount Langtang in Langtang Valley, was completely buried by an avalanche of ice and rocks pushed loose by the earthquake. Some 200 people likely perished in the disaster.
While cloudy conditions have hampered satellite observations of Nepal after the earthquake, theOperational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured a clear view of the landslide aftermath on April 30, 2015. A mixture of snow, ice, and debris that originated in snowfields on northwestern slopes above Langtang buried the village as the debris slid toward the Langtang River.
A member of a group of volunteer scientists with expertise in remote sensing was the first to identify and analyze the landslide using Landsat 8. “The Langtang River was completely covered by the deposit that buried Langtang Village, but there is no evidence yet of a lake forming behind the blockage,” the scientists noted on their Mountain Hydrology website. “This may indicate that the water has found its way through the debris, snow and ice.” This is significant because rivers damned with landslide debris can back up and lead to destructive downstream floods if the natural dam fails.
Turn on the image comparison tool to see the landslide debris cover Langtang and the Langtang River.