On October 4, 2010 a disaster started at a site in Ajka, Hungary. A red mud reservoir near an alumina plant broke, and the toxic material moved through nature and on into the northern half of Devecser village and killed 10 people, injured 406 others, and destroyed a lot of trees and animals.

Impact of Ajka

I calculated the area of that reservoir to be about 25 hectares using this site.

Also, I calculated the maximum length and width of the flown red mud to be about 3 miles and 1 mile respectively (using Google Maps).

Length of Ajka red mud

On the Wikipedia page for the Ajka disaster it's also stated that the volume of red mud was about 1,000,000 m$^3$, and the total area affected was about 40 km$^2$.

That got my attention looking at a red mud reservoir near Hamburg. It has an area of about 1.45 km$^2$, and it is 28 miles far from Hamburg. Also, it's near an alumina plant in Stade.

German red mud reservoir

German red mud area

I don't know the depth of either reservoir.

My question: How far would the German red mud reservoir impact the nature around it if it was to break?

  • $\begingroup$ i am trying to view the map on where am i app and effect of the red mud seem to have not changed $\endgroup$
    – John Devr
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 8:27
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnDevr Yes, its effect has not changed, because the red mud dam isn't broken yet. Try to read the question carefully. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 21:24

1 Answer 1


Based on the information presented, this question is unanswerable.

What is the topography of the area the red mud dam is on? Flat, steep or somewhere in between? Are there any waterways nearby which could be inundated and send red mud farther down stream? Is there a delicate nature reserve nearby?

What is the consistency of the red mud? How fluid is it? This will largely affect it flow characteristics. It won't have the consistency of water, so you it won't have an affect like the water from the Khakova Dam burst. Similarly it won't have the consistency of dry rock and it will have a larger affect than the rock slide at Brienz in Switzerland.

Additionally, how do you expect the dam to fail, how will the wall break? Will it be a small breakage that releases a small amount of material over a prolonged period that can be easily dealt with, or will it be a massive collapse that releases a large amount of material in a very small amount of time releasing something akin to a tsunami or red mud at a high speed with a lot of energy - an uncontrollable catastrophe? Which of the four walls do you expect could break and how would the surface topography assist or hinder the flow of material from the dam?

Does the company responsible for the dam currently have a 24/7 monitoring system that can warn it of a possible or impending wall failure? How quickly could it respond to such a situation and what could it do?

What factors could affect the stability of the dam: seismic activity and seismic resistance of the the dam, terrorists with explosives or heavy machinery damaging a wall, heavy rain eroding a wall, excessive water ponding of water on top of the dam, weakening a wall, repeated periodic excessive wetting and drying of the dam?

  • $\begingroup$ That's Kakhovka dam dear Fred $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 17, 2023 at 13:25

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