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Seminar: Summer Rupper “Chamoli Disaster…”

April 9 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm MDT

“The February 7th, 2021, Chamoli Disaster: A(nother) Recent Example of the Complex Interactions of Cascading Hazards, Mountain Development, Renewable Energy, and Climate Change”

295 FASB, coffee in the lobby prior. To attend via zoom, register at

Abstract: On 7 Feb 2021, a catastrophic mass flow moved through multiple valleys in Chamoli, Uttarakhand, India, causing widespread devastation and severely damaging two hydropower projects. Over 200 people were killed or remain missing. Scientists and other experts, near globally, attributed the event to an outburst from a glacial lake. This (mis)information spread rapidly through media outlets globally. In parallel, an international collaboration focused on studying this event and its impacts, organically developed. We closely inspected the flood path, which quickly led to the realization that the source for this mass flow was not a lake and was not at all obvious. In this talk, I will provide a brief history of nuclear spy devices, the Chipko (tree-hugging) Movement, women activists, and hydropower plant safety in the region – surprisingly important context for understanding this disaster. I will then discuss the untangling of evidence from eye-witness videos, seismic analysis, remote sensing analysis, and modeling we used to determine the source and evolution of the mass movement. Finally, I will briefly discuss the Chamoli flood as one of many disasters at the center of the complex interplay between development, climate change, and hazards in the Himalayas as well as other mountainous regions of the world.


April 9
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm MDT
Event Category:


295 FASB (Sutton Geology Bldg.)
115 S 1460 E
Salt Lake City, UT 84112 United States
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