Melting Permafrost Flows Like Lava Through Tibetan Plateau

NewsflarePublished: September 11, 2017220 viewsVirality: 3%
Published: September 11, 2017

Impressive footage has emerged of melting permafrost slowing churning up grassland on the Tibetan Plateau. The video, filmed in Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in China's southwestern Qinghai Province on September 7, shows mud and grass being churned up in a process known as solifluction phenomenon.

It happens because permafrost is impermeable to water - any soil on top of it may become waterlogged and slide downslope due to gravity. Several families and a farm were affected by the incident. The farm has had to relocate.

Permafrost is soil, rock or sediment that is frozen for more than two consecutive years. In areas not overlain by ice, it exists beneath a layer of soil, rock or sediment, which freezes and thaws annually and is called the "active layer".

People online have taken to discuss how events like these predict the future of the planet, saying that this demonstrates how climate change is changing the face of the Earth. One person, who introduces himself as a geology student says that ‘this is a mass wasting event, more specifically a debris flow. It occurs when the sediment on a slope has too much water within its pore spaces. The water within the pore spaces causes slope instability, and eventually gravity wins & the sediment starts to flow like a fluid’. He then brings the conclusion that this is not permafrost, but a flow of water laden sediment.

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