Photograph of the Largest Landslide Ever Recorded in the United States


A couple of months ago, a massive landslide at Kennecott Utah Copper’s Bingham Canyon Mine cut production at the second largest copper producer in the US in half. What began as a movements measured at only fractions of an inch, turned into a 165-million ton wall of loose dirt tumbling down the northeast section of the mine around 9:30pm local time on April 10th.

The picture above was taken after the slide by Deseret News photographer Ravell Call, and captures the sheer size of a slide of this magnitude (some experts believe that it’s the largest ever recorded in the US). To put what you’re seeing in perspective, if the debris from the slide were spread out over NYC’s Central Park, the park would be buried approximately 65 feet deep.

A crop of the photograph showing the scale of the landslide

A crop of the photograph showing the scale of the landslide

Bingham Canyon Mine is the largest man-made excavation on Earth, and as such, even the high-res photo has a hard time doing the slide justice. Fortunately, Kennecott was prepared for the slide. The company is always using four redundant systems to keep track of any and all movement in the mine.

When their special, 96,250-photo-per-minute radar began detecting significant movement, the company immediately set about moving buildings, personnel and equipment to make sure that the slide would cause as little damage as possible.

Even with all of the detection devices at work, however, the company couldn’t have predicted how deep the slide would travel down the mine pit, and a good deal of equipment wound up buried in the bottom right of the photo.

You can find more of Call’s photographs of the landslide over at Deseret News. It’s a gallery of landscape photographs that you probably won’t be imitating anytime soon.

Image credits: Photograph by Ravell Call/Deseret News and used with permission.

  • Aaron Tsuru

    That’s not a landslide. That’s an Apple Maps screenshot! Bada ZING!


    Hello? Is this thing on?

  • 423424

    why no timelapse…
    that would be worth it .. not the always the same landscape boring timelapse movies.

  • CrackerJacker

    Is that bigger than the slide caused by the eruption of Mt. St. Helens? I doubt it.

    Ah, and indeed in the linked article: For one, the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption in Washington released around 4.8 billion cubic yards of debris. That makes it around 50 times larger than the Bingham Canyon rock avalanche.

  • DLCade

    You’re absolutely right. I believe the expert who made the claim said it was the biggest ever recorded in the US that was not caused by a volcanic eruption :)

  • Phase19

    There’s movement all over the place…

  • bop

    It is surely the first thing I saw/thought of as well.

  • Anthon

    The picture is strangely beautiful.

  • Gman

    needs more HDR

  • Dave

    Or simply; a slide and an eruption are two different things. Now if they had said it was the largest displacement in the US, you may have a point.

  • Dave

    Have you heard anywhere that the slide was predicted? If it was not predicted, realize that most of the people present at a mining site are probably not time lapse photographers.

  • Tyler

    The slide was predicted. They had been monitoring the slope and it’d daily movement. When it became evident that it was going to go they cordoned off a large section of the mine and evacuated the area. Kuddos to the Geotechnical engineers and geologists for being on their game, that slide could have led to a lot of casualties.

  • CrackerJacker

    The eruption caused the slide, the eruption was not the slide. The PP article made an statement that did not have the qualifiers that the underlying source material did. Just a little sloppy, that’s all.

  • Crissa

    In the 1980 eruption, it tipped from a section of the mountain that broke off and slid, causing tremendous damage and directly killing one scientist – his location being buried hundreds of feet under debris.

    Technically, the slide triggered the eruption, but the pressure from the volcano is what created the tilt and cleave line.

  • Crissa

    There’s some very large slides in recent history along the Columbia Gorge, but I don’t know their volumes. Now I wonder how they compare ^-^