How an ‘ancient landslide’ keeps threatening a railroad, homes in San Clemente
An ancient landslide and a train track left no doubt about where it was on the morning of May 2, but it wasn’t until later that day that rescuers were able to get to it.
That’s when a San Clemente resident found the wreckage of a landslip, a massive sinkhole that buried parts of his house and killed him.
But it wasn’t till about an hour after that when he was discovered alive by rescuers and taken to a hospital. He died seven days later, but the landslip is still a threat.
The slide has left a gap between where the landslide happened and the train tracks where it’s on San Clemente’s north edge. The train on the tracks that morning was an Amtrak train from San Francisco, the station of the Bay Area Transbay Terminal.
The landslide, which did not seem to be as powerful as the ones that caused the March and May blazes in Southern California, also left a gap between the train and the tracks, although that gap is not as large as the one where the slide happened, according to experts who studied the slide.
“They’ve got a pretty big hole where it’s on the north end of town and the east end of town,” said Dan Proust, a retired engineer who took a course in geology at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
The landslide happened on the morning of May 2, 2015, in the area near the tracks and in an area where the San Clemente High and Middle Schools were located.
“The slide basically had two main lobes,” Proust said, “one on the west side, two on the east side.”
But they were also moving at a different speed.
“Two lobes of the slide on the south side, it moved slower than the other two on the north side,” he said.
But even though it moved slower because of the weight on those lobes, both lobes crashed together in the same spot.
“So you’ve got the two larger lobes on the south that went down onto the tracks and the smaller lobes on the north,” Proust