Articles | Volume 10, issue 9
30 Sep 2010
 | 30 Sep 2010

Design and installation of a Prototype Geohazard Monitoring System near Machu Picchu, Peru

M. H. Bulmer and T. Farquhar

Abstract. The town of Machu Picchu, Peru, serves the >700 000 tourists visiting Machu Picchu annually. It has grown threefold in population in the past two decades. Due to the limited low-lying ground, construction is occurring on the unstable valley slopes. Slopes range from <10° on the valley floor to >70° in the surrounding mountains. The town has grown on a delta formed at the confluence of the Alcamayo, Aguas Calientes and Vilcanota Rivers. Geohazards in and around the town of particular concern are 1) large rocks falling onto the town and/or the rail line, 2) flash flooding by any one of its three rivers, and 3) mudflows and landslides. A prototype early warning system that could monitor weather, river flow and slope stability was installed along the Aguas Calientes River in 2009. This has a distributed modular construction allowing components to be installed, maintained, salvaged, and repaired by local technicians. A diverse set of candidate power, communication and sensor technologies was evaluated. Most of the technologies had never been deployed in similar terrain, altitude or weather. The successful deployment of the prototype proved that it is technically feasible to develop early warning capacity in the town.