Video shot from a helicopter Sunday shows a huge landslide in a remote area of B.C. north of Powell River.
Staff at 49 North Helicopters, located in Campbell River on Vancouver Island, said they heard about an “unusual amount of wood” floating in Bute Inlet on the weekend.
They decided to fly up the inlet, on B.C.’s central coast, to the Southgate River where they filmed miles and miles of water, mud and floating debris.
Brent Ward, from the Department of Earth Sciences and a member of the Centre for National Hazards Research at Simon Fraser University, said it appears to have been a glacial lake outburst flood that occurred at Elliot Creek just east of the head of Bute Inlet.
“It looks like there was a large landslide near the head of Elliot Creek, it flowed down, hit a glacier, turned the corner and then hit a lake,” Ward told Global News. “It caused a very large wave in the lake. We estimate it’s anywhere from 70 to say 110 metres high, which travelled down the lake, overtopped the outlet and then water rushed down toward the Southgate River.
“That water eroded a very large channel and deposited huge amounts of sediment on to the fan of Elliot Creek and then a lot of that sediment turned the corner and went down the Southgate to enter into the head of Bute Inlet.”
Ward said the only reason they found out about the slide was when one of the companies working in the region, Interfor, lost of their bridges in the sediment flow.
“As far as we know, that’s the extent of the infrastructure damage but they’ll be far more effects on the fishery in the area,” he added.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada told Global News on Monday that it is aware of the slide, but did not provide further information.
Ward said they are really struggling to try to find information about the slide, due to the remote location. They are going to try and look at more satellite imagery but the weather is not cooperating.
“It would be indirectly affected by climate change because the area that failed, initially was buttressed or held in place by the glacier,” Ward added. “Then over the last 40 years or so, the glacier has pulled back considerably and opened up that space and then the material can fail easier.”
He said they might have to wait until the spring melt in order to fully access the region.
Global News has reached out to the regional district office for more details.