Formation and failure of the Tsatichhu landslide dam, Bhutan

Stuart Dunning, Nicholas Rosser, David Petley, Chris Massey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Citations (Scopus)


At 00:30 (local time) on the 10th September 2003 a joint and foliation defined wedge of material with an estimated volume of 7–12×106 m3 slid into the narrow Tsatichhu River Valley, in Jarrey Geog, Lhuentse, eastern Bhutan. The Tsatichhu River, a north–easterly flowing tributary of the Kurichuu River, was completely blocked by the landslide. During its movement, the landslide transitioned into a rock avalanche that travelled 580 m across the valley before colliding with the opposite valley wall. The flow then moved down valley, travelling a total distance of some 700 m. The rock avalanche was accompanied by an intense wind blast that caused substantial damage to the heavily forested valley slopes. The resulting geomorphologically-typical rock-avalanche dam deposit created a dam that impounded a water volume of 4–7×106 m3 at lake full level. This lake was released by catastrophic collapse of the landslide, which occurred at 16:20 (local time) on 10th July 2004, after reported smaller failures of the saturated downstream face. The dam failure released a flood wave that had a peak discharge of 5900 m3 s−1 at the Kurichhu Hydropower Plant 35 km downstream.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-113
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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