Thursday 28 March 2013

Major landslip on Whidbey Island, Washington State.

A major landslip occurred on Whidbey Island, Washington State, at about 4.15 am local time (about 11.15 am GMT) on Wednesday 27 March 2013. Severely damaging one home and destroying a section of road that cut of twenty more. The twenty isolated homes and a further seventeen judged to be potentially unsafe by Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue were evacuated. No injuries have been reported, and only twelve people were reported to have been evacuated during the incident, as many properties in the area are holiday homes only inhabited seasonally.

House damaged by the 27 March landslip on Whidbey Island. Though apparently structurally sound this property has more-or-less totally lost its foundations, making it unlikely it can be saved. KING 5/Reuters.

Whidbey Island is notoriously prone to such erosional landslip events. Much of the island is made up of unconsolidated glacial deposits, held together with dried clay rather than lithified by mineral deposits. Such deposits can quickly become waterlogged following heavy rainfall (something Washington State is famed for) and lose all cohesion. The United States Geological Survey estimates that 51% of the coastline of Whidbey Island is at risk from such collapses.

Aerial photograph of part of the landslip on Whidbey Island. Associated Press.

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