A sizable earth fissure emerged over Tbilisi’s Vashlijvari slope near the Lisi Lake linked to the activation of landslide processes, prompting the Tbilisi City Hall to restrict traffic in the adjacent Machavariani street on March 15.
Director of the Institute of Earth Sciences at Ilia State University, Tea Godoladze, who checked the site on March 18, said primary observations showed the crack depth measuring 19 meters, while the torn landmass amount to roughly half a million cubic meters. She said the landslide in the area seems “unstoppable.”
Godoladze connected the landslide activation to human intervention, noting that the Tbilisi City Hall’s nearby “improperly planned” road laying and construction processes likely triggered the formation of the torn mass. The seismologist accused the city authorities of failing to take into account evident geological risks.
Geomorphologist Lasha Sukhishvili of the same institute noted that while “geological conditions on this territory are favorable for landslide processes,” human intervention contributed to the problem. He said the slope’s stability has been undermined by new water pipes, as well as the ongoing construction of the adjacent road that caused vibration.
Sukhishvili warned that neighboring slopes could also suffer from similar “destabilization,” and that rain and further human intervention could accelerate the landslide. He said, however, that the block slide is unlikely to endanger the local population.
Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze said the activated landslide “has nothing to with the road works,” rebuffing allegations. The Mayor said the landslide process is taking place on the upper slope of Machavariani Street, while roads are being laid downward the street. “The only work done on Machavariani Street was to replace the water and sewer pipes,” he highlighted.
Noting that the “causes are still unknown,” Mayor Kaladze said a group of German geoengineers is expected to arrive to Tbilisi on March 22 to study the process and guide the necessary work towards safely lifting the traffic restrictions on Machavariani Street.
Kaladze’s Deputy, Irakli Bendeliani said studying the landslide process is underway and expected to conclude in the upcoming days. Bendeliani said the City Hall consistently conducts environmental assessments before greenlighting construction processes.