Sunday, April 11, 2010

Latest news on this site

22nd May: Data and graphs updated.  The water level data graph appears to be anomalous
19th May: New page showing NDMA freeboard data added
18th May: Data updated to 17th May, but only estimated due to GLOF.  No data available for seepage due to dangerous conditions on the dam.
17th May:  All graphs and data updated to 16th May.
15th May: All graphs and data updated to 14th May.
13th May 2010: I have revamped the site to make the data presentation more straightforward as we enter the last phase.  Old posts still below. All graphs updated with data from 13th May 2010.  I have also added a new graph of seepage against water depth. 
12th May 2010: Data and graphs updated.  Note increasing seepage rate.  A new seepage point has developed.
10th May 2010: Data and graphs updated.  NDMA have not posted any new data over the weekend (why would they?), so I am using the Focus data to fill the gaps.  I will correct these once the NDMA data are available.  The forecast date range for water reaching the spillway is still 22nd-24th May.
8th May 2010:  Data and graphs updated. 
6th May 2010: Data and graphs updated.  I have changed the calculation date for overtopping to use the 24 hour data as the rate of filling is accelerating markedly.
6th May 2010: Graphs updated.
5th May 2010: Data updated.  Graphs will be updated when NDMA data are available.
4th May 2010 (18:30 UT): Graphs updated to 3rd May 2010.
4th May 2010: Update of data.  Graphs to be updated later in the day.  Note the increase in lake size and it appears that the rate of rise of the water level is increasing.
29th April 2010:  Update of data and all graphs.
28th April 2010: Update of data and most graphs.
27th April 2010:  All data and graphs updated.  NDMA have revised thir freeboard measurement to a value that is similar to that of Focus.  The Focus value is once again being used for the overtopping calculation.
21st April 2010: All data and graphs updated.  New NDMA data are now available for the freeboard, which are now being used for the overtopping calculation.
20th April 2010: The summary data (but not the graphs) have been updated to 19th April 2010.
19th April 2010:  All graphs and data updated to 18th April. Seepage rate and inflow rate are now rising.  
17th April 2010:  All graphs and data updated to 16th April.  Note the reduced rate of water level rise in the last 24 hours.  Reported sounds of subsurface deformation continue to cause real concern at Shishkat and need urgent attention.
16th April 2010: Updated the seepage graph such the y-axis is correct (thanks to Tropical for pointing this out)
16th April 2010: All graphs and data updated to 14th April 
13th April 2010: All graphs and data updated to 11th April 
11th April 2010: I have added a new graph of the rate of rise of the lake level.


  1. Do you know of any projected mapping of the possible mudflow of a breach of the dam? My daughter is planning to be in that area in June/July and I would be interested in any projections downstream.

  2. Here is a link to a satellite photo:
    I haven't seen this in your blog, but they have a reference to it at the bottom of the page.


  3. Hi Dave. We live in Gilgit (not on the Hunza river side) and drove up to the landslide this week. I saw two bulldozers mired in the very wet mud where they are trying to dig out a spillway. Where we parked (about halfway up to the top of the slide) we noticed the ground moving up and down as trucks drove across it. Closer to the dam, the underlying ground was even softer and we were able to move the crust up and down just by standing and bouncing a little on it. It was unsettling to say the least and now that I have read a bit more I wonder does the wet mud spillway and the bouncy crust suggest that piping might be more likely? Thanks! Laurel

  4. Hi Laurel, so you live about 4 miles up the Gilgit river, right? From what I can see, looks like about 60+ up the Hunza to the slide. Do you know of any predictions as to how far the slide/water might travel down from there if the dam breached?

  5. Well, no we live only about 2.5 km up the Gilgit river, but there seems a real possibility of backwash (IF the dam breaks suddenly) when the wave reaches the "T" junction where the Hunza river joins the Gilgit river. I have been doing some reading about the 19th century flood caused by similar sliding. The huge wave of water reached far south... take a look at this and you can see on a map how far Nowshera is away from the Indus!

    This is what was written by a regiment stationed at Nowshera in 1858, on the banks of the Kabul River: “Early in August there had been a landslide far up the Indus in the hills and a large body of water formed in a sort of dam. Suddenly heavy rain set in and the whole mass of water reached down to Attock, at the confluence of the Indus and Cabul rivers and where the channel is very narrow. Consequently the water rushed up the Cabul river, actually making it flow backwards”.

    Major A E Jones, who was the Mess Sergeant at that time, later recalled that he was woken by one of the native servants. He recalled a great mass of water was coming up the Cabul river against the normal direction of flow. Sergeant Jones sent for the President of the Mess Committee and, surrounded by steadily rising water, they hurriedly started to pack up the Mess property. “The water rose in the Barracks about six feet, but where the Mess was. it covered the bungalow”.

  6. I've made a Google Earth Overlay with that NASA Earth Observatory image that Daniel posted above. The registration isn't perfect but I did my best to line up the highway trace in the Google Earth roads layer with the trace in the satellite image, focusing on the area immediately surrounding the lake and landslide. There's more mismatch at higher altitudes, but I don't have the means to orthorectify the photo to clean this up. Feel free to point to this KMZ file if you find it useful:

  7. Hi Dave, I've been following Attabad Landslide since February, visited these areas on March 20th. I agree with Laurel's feedback, and work on the slide was sluggish probably due to the soft clay. The length of debris and mass is huge, are there any scientific calculations which can tell how much force water is exerting on the slided area & how much can it sustain?

  8. Hi
    Pakistan Govt is just watching the position. They are doing work very slowly and no any web site where people can read the current situation. If you email to any concerned officer they will not reply you.

    They are waiting for a big disaster than they will request the rich countries to give aid and can make corruption in the fund.

    They can make FOOL(OWL) nothing more................

  9. I am one of the residents of Hunza. I did get a news from the village that a sudden outbrust- maybe an underground/ glacier ( Hussani- Gulkin glacier) water has resulted more inflow to the lake. This may compliment more accomulation of voulme of water and may have its impact on the behaviour of lake!

  10. Laurel,
    The 19th century slide blocked a much bigger river and formed a much larger lake. The Hunza River is a tributary of a tributary and I don't believe you can extrapolate the effects of one to the other. The volumes involved are several orders of magnitude apart.

  11. My wife will be in Gilgit working for an NGO the last 2 weeks of May. If the dam fails I'm guessing that Gilgit will be hit since its not that higher than the river. Is this a valid assumption or an overreaction?

  12. Theak Thak, There are no guarantees, but I recommended that 60 m above the river level would be a sensible starting point. Your wife should try to ensure that she stays above that level during the critical period, and to listen for warnings that a flood is coming.

  13. --History tells that in 1858, a similar landslide on the Hunza river (tributary of the Indus) created a reservoir. This also burst. Cultivated land was scoured out and villages flattened. When the flood waters reached the confluence of the Kabul river and the Indus, a reverse flow up the Kabul river, up to 50 kms, was created. This is approximately the same location, and the quantity of water is growing daily!

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  15. Thanks for that. I thought you were referring to the 1841 slide which is erroneously referred to in your link. Nonetheless, it is a moot point as the dangers are very real in the context of Gilgit.

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  17. On behalf of people of Hunza, I would like to extend our cavernous gratitude to Dr Petley for visiting Hunza, subsequently for producing such a high profile risk assessment report based on existing conditions and historical data. He has offered great proposals / specialist opinion on counter measures including various alert stages. Our bureaucrats are absolutely damn freaks considering themselves as the master of all trades, while the reality is reverse and they do,t know nothing except making corruption.

  18. Dear all

    We are updating the latest imagery as soon as it becomes available from various sources and partners in association with Google. Also we have forwarded the helpful files to all concerning departments (No response at all from them still). Anyhow, the latest satellite imagery set at all Google mapping products comes from March 4th 2010 and next is to come in coming days and so will be updated. We will also update the maps as soon as imagery gets updated. Anyone working on ground there, can use the Google Map Maker ( for guided maps for instance or can use the rendered state of these maps through this mapplet (

    Related discussion can be followed at

    or on facebook fan page (

    KMZ files are also been uploaded for first updated imagery and for the false-color image updated yesterday by NASA. These can be downloaded from:

    Have any question or suggestion, let us know at any of the above two pages.

    Google Maps Pakistan

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  20. Thank you Dr. Dave Petley for doing such a great job keeping everyone updated with the latest news on the landslide. We're all very worried about the situation and all Pakistanis are extremely grateful to you for this work.

    Thank you!