This is a new look at the largest and potentially most expensive non-volcanic landslide in North America, which happened on April 10 in Utah’s Bingham Canyon Mine. The image with the slide was taken by NASA’s EO-1 satellite on May 2, 2013. The “before” image is an aerial image taken on July 20, 2011.
Besides the very obvious landslide, these images reveal other changes, like the seasons, as well as which parts of the 2.5-mile (4 km) wide, 3,900-foot (1,200 m) deep mine have been expanded in the last couple of years (notice especially the change in the shape of the walls of the mine near the bottom, to the right of the toe of the slide).
The Bingham Canyon Mine is among the largest open-pit mines in the world and it’s located about 18 miles (30 km) southwest of Salt Lake City. It’s best known for being a copper mine, but the mine’s ore also yields gold, silver and molybdenum.
When the landslide happened, it let loose 65 to 70 million cubic meters of earth and was detected by local seismic networks. According to NASA’s Earth Observatory, the avalanche beats Canada’s 2007 Mount Steele slide and Alaska’s 2005 Mount Stellar slide, which both had volumes of about 50 million cubic meters.
It did not, however, beat the 2008 Daguangboa landslide caused by the Wenchuan earthquake in China. That triggered the fall of more than 1 billion cubic meters of ground. As for the largest landslide known, that would be the Heart Mountain landslide of Wyoming, which released an astounding 3.4 trillion cubic meters of rock and soil. But since that one happened 40 million years ago, it’s not quite in the same category.