Red Sludge From Brazilian Dam Collapse Reaches the Atlantic

Earlier this month, on November 5, two dams retaining tons of iron-mining waste near the Brazilian town of Bento Rodrigues burst, releasing a massive flood of thick, red toxic mud that flattened buildings and trees, smothered the small town, and left at least six dead. The wave of toxic sludge—tested and found to contain high levels of mercury and arsenic, according to a BBC report—then moved downstream, into the Rio Doce (Doce River), and spent two weeks making its way several hundred miles downstream, finally reaching the Atlantic Ocean. According to Reuters: “Scientists say the sediment, which may contain chemicals used by the mine to reduce iron ore impurities, could alter the course of streams as they harden, reduce oxygen levels in the water and diminish the fertility of riverbanks and farmland where floodwater passed.”
Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Charles Platiau / Reuters

    The Ubiquity of Smartphones, as Captured by Photographers

    The total number of smartphone users worldwide will reach an estimated 3 billion this year—here’s a look at the visual landscape.

  • Todd Kennedy

    The 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest

    A selection of entries from this year’s competition, which is open for submissions until November 15

  • Eric Thayer / Reuters

    Photos: The Woolsey Fire Leaves Devastation in Malibu, California

    The Woolsey Fire and the nearby Hill Fire have forced the evacuation of nearly 250,000 residents from their homes near the Pacific Coast in California’s Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.

  • Eric Miller / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: Midterm Elections, Flaming Barrels, Diwali Lanterns

    A visit to the Swiss Museum of Transport, NATO soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan, autumn colors pass their peak in the North, Bonfire Night across England, and much more