The 1983 Landslide Dam at Thistle, Utah

by Bruce N. Kaliser, Utah Geological & Mineral, Survey, Salt Lake City, UT, USA,
Robert W. Fleming, Utah Geological & Mineral, Survey, Salt Lake City, UT, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Landslide Dams: Processes, Risk, and Mitigation


The Thistle, Utah, landslide began rapid movement on April 13, 1983. The landslide, a reactivation of an estimated 22 multiplied by 10**6 m**3 of old landslide debris, blocked Spanish Fork Canyon and thereby created a lake more than 50 m deep. In the aftermath of the disaster, this paper examines the landslide event, the history of movement, geological conditions at the site, and the current situation at the landslide site. The site has apparently been involved in repeated landslide and earth-flow movement through historic and pre-historic time. However, there is good geologic evidence that the 1983 landslide movement was unprecedented in at least the past several hundred years. Two studies have resulted in recommendations that the landslide dam can safely act as a flood-control structure for low-head, short-term storage.

Subject Headings: Landslides | Embankment dams | Weirs | Geology | Floods | Structural safety | Lakes | Utah | United States

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