The landslide of mount toc and the vajont valley
The Vajont Landslide, which detached from the northern slopes of Mount Toc on October 9, 1963 at 10:39 PM, has caused serious and different consequences that, after many years, have been only partially remedied in part thanks to the work of man and partly also due to the spontaneous course of nature.
The huge mountain portion, detached and collapsed suddenly in the basin below, shocked and dramatically changed the landscape itself; the giant wave, high fifty meters and possibly more, banging randomly along the banks of the lake and diverted by the rock ridges destroyed the villages of Fraseign, Spesse, Pineda, Prada, Marzana and S. Martino, removing the solid squared stone buildings up to their foundations. The village of technicians and workers built in the immediate vicinity of the dam, consisting of offices, houses, a canteen, various services including a couple of shops, was destroyed and buried by the collapsed mountain. All this with a result of over two hundred dead of whom only 17 were found.
The remains of the workers’ village are still visible and can be visited along an easy path which begins near the Vajont dam: the “Trui de la Moliesa”.
The wave on its way eroded forests and cultivated land, destroyed every human work such as roads, bridges, technological equipment, etc.
For many months on the lake, which continued to dangerously rise threatening the village survivors, floated, covering it, every type of rubble, timber and household goods, together with the remains of decaying animals.
To prevent that the lake flooded the village of Erto and overflown over the top of the landslide, it was necessary to pump water over the Pass S. Osvaldo through large water pumps making it flow into the stream Cellina.
This unnatural flow lasted for a few years, until it was restored the bottom tunnel (by-pass) submerged and partly damaged by the landslide; so it was possible to restore the water flow into the Piave valley and empty the left lake.
The emptying of the lake, from a point of view prevented the danger, but left bare the banks of the valley and the valley floor, which looked lunar and shocking due to erosion, to the total lack of vegetation and mud from the bottom.
The consequences and effects of these events, especially for that part of the surviving population of Erto who stubbornly and courageously fought and chose to continue living in the valley, have never been properly assessed and considered. Only after the play by Marco Paolini, carried around in squares and broadcast on television and the making of the movie “Vajont” by Renzo Martinelli public opinion, but also ordinary people, are more aware and concerned about this issue.
The most obvious impact is still and always will be the change of the landscape and the devastation also geographical and morphological of the places; where there was a deep valley now there is a mountain, where there was a large lake remains an eroded and rough valley, in place of meadows and inhabited huts of the Toc there is a huge white stone slab.
With the passing of years the weather and nature have remedied in part the collapse, in fact, the waters have reshaped its moving riverbeds rebuilding part of the water network, the pioneer vegetation gradually resettled making green the hillsides and slopes, where humus and substrate permit it, were born several species of shrubs and trees and even wildlife has taken possession of the territory.
The Park of the Friulian Dolomites decided to include in its territory the landslide area since it is considered a geological phenomenon unique in the world.
The visitors center of Erto houses a photographic exhibition on the Vajont catastrophe “A space for memory”, where it is described in a precise and scientific way the whole thing that struck the people of Erto, Casso and Longarone. In addition to the descriptive panels you can see charts, graphs, comparing 3-D models and a CD-ROM that allows you to have a global vision on the disaster and observe the graphic reconstruction of the landslide also with original footage.
All this makes the Visitors Center of Erto an important and complete documentation center on the tragic event and also a valid point of reference for studies and research.