The Val di Stava dam collapsed on July 19, 1985 when two tailings dams used for sedimenting the mud from a nearby mine failed. The subsequent mudflow caused one of Northern Italy’s worst disasters – 268 lives were lost and 63 buildings and eight bridges were destroyed.

What happened?

According to The History of Geology:

“An investigation into the disaster found that the dams were poorly maintained and the margin of safe operation was very small. As last trigger of the failure is considered a leak of water, caused by a pipe in the upper dam, used to drain water, which had been bent by the weight of sediments. The increasing water pressure of the bunged up dam, in combination with the water saturation weakening the sediments of the dam wall, caused probably the collapse.”

See more at:  http://historyofgeology.fieldofscience.com/2010/07/july-19-1985-val-di-stava-dam-collapse.html

National Hazards and Earth System Sciences published a report indicating that effective regulation may have prevented this disaster.

Read report:

http://www.nat-hazards-earth-syst-sci.net/12/1029/2012/nhess-12-1029-2012.pdf

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