This past weekend, a rare underwater landslide in the town of Sørkjosen, Norway, resulted in extensive damage to a wharf, some buildings, and a sea wall. Local authorities have shut down a major road for fear it too could be sucked into the sea, resulting in a 435-mile (700-km) detour.

As reported in the American Geophysical Union’s Landslide Blog, the underwater landslide occurred this past Sunday. Incredibly, no one was killed or injured in an incident that appears to have taken out an area of fill, a large part of a wharf, and some buildings. No residential homes appear to have been damaged, though three people were evacuated.

Above: How the area appeared before the landslide (Bing via AGU). Below: The aftermath.

In addition to the damage at Sørkjosen, the landslide has caused a major headache for travelers. The highway that runs through the town, the E6, has been closed as a precaution. This means the region has essentially been divided into two, resulting in an insane 435-mile (700-km) detour. Normally, a bus trip from Sørkjosen to Tromsø takes about four hours; this week the trip lasts 11 hours. The highway closure also means it’s not possible to drive to and from the Finnmark region without leaving Norway.

Dave Petley from the Landslide Blog offers his perspective:

Interestingly, the images suggest that close to the crown of the landslide there was a large ongoing construction project on the highway, including the construction of a new tunnel...There is some speculation... that the landslide might have been associated in some ways with these works. Indeed...local fishermen have been concerned about this site for some time because of the dumping of spoil from the tunnel. The concern now will be to ensure that the landslide is not likely to retrogress and remove the road itself. In the longer term, it will be interesting to find out the causes of the landslide, and the mobility of the slipped mass.

A similar event happened in Norway just last year, the Nord-Statland landslide.

All images: Øyvind Skeie Hellum, Statens vegvesen.