Abstract

Catak village in Trabzon Province, Turkey, is a scattered collection of houses on the main Trabzon-Erzurum road, 30 km inland from the Black Sea coast (Fig. 1). The village is sited on the valley floor of the Degirmen River, which has incised deeply through an alternating sequence of Upper Cretaceous flysch deposits and volcanic lavas to yield steep terrain with a relative relief of about 1000 m. The confined nature of the valley floor at Catak, together with the additional constraints imposed by a river confluence and a cemetary, necessitated that improvement of the road in 1984 involved an alignment on the eastern margin of the valley. This cut into the base of a slope 225 m high, standing at an overall angle of 40°.

At 2400 hours on 22 June 1988 the colluvial materials mantling the lower part of this slope failed and blocked the road. A grader was despatched to the scene, but clearing operations were postponed until the morning because of fears that continuing heavy rainfall might cause further failures. Delayed travellers congregated in a coffee house immediately to the south of the initial failure and were therefore directly in the path of the catastrophic landslide that occurred at 0800 hours on 23 June.

The Catak landslide received widespread media coverage as the death toll was initially estimated as being up to 300 people. The rescue operations (see Figs 2–4), including a 32-member German rescue team with 21 dogs, recovered 66 bodies. In addition, the economic consequences

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