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Geografiska Annaler: Series A, Physical Geography





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Lake Shewa in northeastern Badakhshan, Afghanistan, was dammed sometime in antiquity when a large rock avalanche (sturzstrom) from the fault‐shattered and strongly weathered Archean gneisses of the Zirnokh peaks to the north moved into the Arakht River valley. This rock avalanche dammed up the river and its tributaries to a dam thickness of c. 400 m, producing a 12‐km‐long lake that is as much as 270 m deep, leaving c. 80 m of freeboard to the top of the dam. At least four separate instances of slope failure have been mapped at the site of the landslide dam, as well as a rock glacier, using remotely sensed data, historical maps, and Google Earth™. Spring seepage through the dam face has caused several recent subsidiary debris slides, which if continued at a large enough scale for long enough, or with additional seismicity from the active strike‐slip faults that cross beneath the landslide dam, could threaten its integrity. Otherwise the clean water that emerges from the dam face could be the source of an unvarying mini‐hydroelectric power source, in addition to the agricultural irrigation that it provides at the present time.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Geografiska Annaler: Series A, Physical Geography on December 3, 2010, available online:

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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