Horrific mudslide in Norway dragging houses into the sea

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/06/03/horrific-mudslide-in-norway-dr.html


Per the tweet’s comment thread, no one hurt. A dog rode it out, survived unhurt, and was rescued.


Mark 7:26.

Sturdy little houses, though. Watching them swirl back again with the backwash was the most surreal part. Even at the end it looked like one or two could be hauled back on land.

Ideally different land.


I was rooting for the larger white structure, and it really looked like the upper floor could have stayed dry until the last second, when it just flopped over.


You can see Raija’s rescue at around the halfway point in the first video on this page:


I can picture Calvin’s dad explaining how islands get made.


The land did not look that steep there, and it certainly looked solid. Surprised that its all founded on mud? which at any moment can slough off into the sea? . . . . . kind of feels like US politics.


“Get a place by the sea”, she said.
“The view will be great”, she said.
“No better use for our retirement fund”, she said.


Per the twitter thread, here’s a documentary on an earlier, larger quickclay landslide in Norway:


Mark! That’s not horrific, man, haven’t you been watching the news? In comparison this is downright peaceful, calming, and gets me right into the contemplative zone. (Lest anyone think I’m too glib, no one was hurt, not even the dog.)

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I was expecting to see something like the outrush from a dam breaking. Instead a big chunk of land just slowly strolled down into the sea, like an old dog that gets up and stretches and ambles over to a different spot just to see if it likes that better. “Hey, ocean, I’m gonna roll over. Make room, willya?”


Old houses are pretty well built. Over built actually. I’m not sure at what point that changed, I’m guessing 70s. It wasn’t the 50s.


What a perfect metaphor for 2020. BON VOYAGE!


Kind of too bad the tweeter of the tweet you’ve linked to is a conservative dick.


Nope. It happens in other places, but Norway is a typical site. You have very steep sided and deep valleys. The slope carries on under the water. And then there is a small shelf of mud and rocks and stuff swept down from the steep sides, that is more or less the only place you can put a cow or a house without it falling off. Possibly somewhere in Washington State may be similar.

For your real nightmare fuel, see Japan and the tsunami. You see entire towns doing this. Cities almost.


I really like that Elkhound.
After, presumedly, the center of its known universe slid into the sea, a giant windy and noisy Sea King helicopter swept in hovering above. A person cabled by a winch hanging below, motioning: “Come here, I’ll put this harness on you.” with hand signals.

That dog, Raija - Sunrise in Finnish, is fearless, calm and smart and it works with people by default even under duress.
I’m so proud of her. Also those that gave her a lift.

Horrific mudslide in Norway dragging houses into the sea

surprisingly, is sort of a unicorn-post. Nice.

Thanks for the link, d_r!


Sedate as it is, that’s scary, and really understandable - my father had a house in a very similar situation in SW Norway.

  • Very, very hard rock was scoured smooth by ice sheets ~12-15000 years ago.
  • Retreating ice left a skin of bouder clay at the sides of the main glaciers.
  • The glaciers turned into the main fjords. Relatively fertile soil formed over the boulder clay.
  • People built on the only flat land and usable soil around. The soil/clay was just too deep to build foundations into bedrock, or if it was shallow enough, bedrock was too hard.
  • The result is communities built on boulder clay rafts, themselves poorly fixed to smooth bedrock.
  • And the fjord is 60 m deep, 1 m offshore…

This situation is happening all the time around the coast of the UK, partly because of rising sea levels, partly because of changes elsewhere have altered foreshore drift, ie stabilisation of one section of coast with improved defences, like rock armour and sea walls causes tidal currents further along the coast to erode land in front of other communities.
Been happening for decades, a tiny fishing community in South Devon, England called Hallsands was lost almost overnight in a December storm after the shingle banks out in Start Bay were dredged for the construction of Devonport dockyard; experts waved away local concerns about the loss of protection against easterly storms, saying longshore drift would replace the shingle. They were wrong, and a whole community was destroyed overnight, one man was found clinging to a door in what was left of his cottage the next morning, hanging over a twenty foot drop into the water. That was in 1917.
The village was rebuilt but was never the same.
Thirty years ago, I could still walk along a narrow shingle beach below the rock shelf that the remains of the village was built on, returning seven or eight years ago I was stunned to see twenty feet of clear water where that shingle beach was, the damage caused by the dredging in the late 1890’s continues to this day.


I take your point about homes eaten by sea, but your example is cliff erosion by the sea, whereas the Norway example - and others described above - are a result of rather different circumstances and forces - namely a limited, thin band of land between bedrock slopes and the sea, where the land itself is inherently unstable and inhospitable for buildings.

This did not look like coastal erosion by forces of the sea, but land/layer slippage due to inherent instability (due to very little depth) of soil on top of impermeable bedrock. In this case, I suspect the water that was the cause came down the slopes behind the land, not from the sea.

So, not quite ‘this situation’.

But the situation you describe is still current - this from earlier this year:

Residents in the Yorkshire village of Skipsea were told this week that more than 20 homes were at risk of falling into the North Sea in the next 12 months, with hundreds vulnerable in the coming decades.

edited for typos


A landslide took out my neighbor’s house when I was a kid. It’s horrible. I am so glad that no one got hurt, I hope they were able to get at least some of their stuff out too. (I don’t know how the landslides there worked, but the hillside started slipping about 12 hours before it hit the neighbor’s house, which went tumbling down a couple hundred foot into the creek, turned over.) Having seen what that did, I don’t think any manmade foundation could stand up to a mud slide; it may just buy a little bit more time to get out. Thankfully, this is a fairly low speed natural disaster, which does make it a lot more survivable.

There is a small part of me that wonders if when these houses sink, if they will be preserved like shipwrecks (as opposed to breaking up and scattering); and if so, what future marine archeologists will think of the wreck sites…

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