8. The Allalin Ice Avalanche

Photographer: Unknown

Year: August 1965

Location: Saas, Switzerland

Casualties: 88

Stirred by imperceptible forces deep in the earth, a huge portion of the Allalin glacier in the Swiss Alps crashed over the Mattmark Lake. A million cubic meters of cold, hard ice fell from 3 miles above into Mattmark Lake below, taking along a construction crew that was building a dam in the lake. These before (left) and after (right) photos show the enormous volume of matter that simply slipped off the mountain and revealed a totally new topography - like a geological drop of trou. Of the 88 people crushed in the tremendous fall, 81 have never been found. After extensive surveys of the area's safety and stability, construction continued and the Mattmark Dam is now the largest in Europe. As global temperatures rise, however, the glacier continues to retreat and melt, which creates higher risk for avalanches.