Natural Disaster

Why Kedarnath happened

Print edition : July 26, 2013

Picture 1: The flood-affected area in Kedarnath analysed on the basis of Resourcesat-2 satellite data.

Picture 2: This early 1882 Geological Survey of India photograph makes clear what geologists have held--that the region around Kedarnath is prone to landslides. The picture also shows that the temple site is located not far away from the snouts of two mountain glaciers.

Picture 3: Kedarnath town at an earlier time. The geology of the area, say scientists, is still roughly the same as in the 1880s.

Map 1(a): The monsoon's progress as on June 14, when it was located over eastern India.

Map 1(b): On June 15, within 24 hours, the monsoon front had advanced right across Uttar Pradesh and the western regions to cover the entire country a month ahead of its normal date of July 15.

Pictures 4a (left) and 4b: NRSC scientists say the pictures indicate that the glacial regions above Kedarnath had received fresh and excess snowfall when heavy rainfall hit the region.

Picture 5a: High-resolution pre-flood image of the Kedarnath region taken by the remote-sensing satellites Cartosat-2A and Resourcesat-2. Photo: NRSC-ISRO

Picture 5B: High-resolution post-flood image of the Kedarnath region taken by the remote-sensing satellites Cartosat-2A and Resourcesat-2.

Picture 6: An NRSC landslide inventory in the approximately 20-km distance between Kedarnath and Sonprayag identified 192 landslides in the stretch. Photo: NRSC-ISRO

Picture 7: Spot 1 is a moraine,which had created a block where a basin formed and allowed the build-up of water. The local people call it teh Chorabari Tal. Spot 2 is where water flowed through the breached moraine and Spot 3 has water overtopping the moraine on the other side as well. Spot 4 indicated heavy erosion, suggesting that the flow carried a huge volume of water. The dark patch to the right of Spot 5 suggests the formation of a new depression, which could have turned into a small-sized lake because of the heavy rainfall.

Picture 8a: Downstream of Kedarnath, the flow in the Mandakani remained within the channel (shown here), resulting in massive erosion of the banks of the river (Picture 8b). Photo: NRSC-ISRO

Picture 8B: Downstream of Kedarnath, the flow in the Mandakini remained within the channel, resulting in the massive erosion of the banks of the river.

Pictures 9a and 9b: Satellite images of Rambara village before and after. Photo: NRSC-ISRO

Pictures 10a and 10b: Satellite images showing the damage at Kedarnath village.

A scientific analysis of the reasons for the disaster that struck Uttarakhand, particularly the temple town.
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