In his commentary on Job 28:7, Rabbi Meir Leibush Malbim (1809-1879) writes (my translation):

In 5581 (1820/21) a tall mountain in France collapsed, and left behind a deep chasm full of water. This was caused by a water channel that originated in a spring at the top of the mountain and emptied into a subterranean cavity under it...

(and goes on to explain the fluid dynamics involved).

What mountain was that? (It's of course possible that the date was transcribed wrongly, so it may have actually occurred in some other year around that time. But searching using various terms hasn't gotten me anywhere.)

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    I did some searching along these lines and there's no hint of this. I thought also that maybe it's a metaphorical way of talking about landslides, but though many are likely to have happened, these were not properly documented. Wikipedia doesn't note any significant ones in France in this time period. Other alternatives I considered were mud volcanoes and such which could collapse rapidly, but I didn't find evidence of this in French territories. It is possible that where it did happen it wasn't significant to comment on. That said, the Rabbi must have heard of this in some way... – gktscrk Jul 8 '20 at 6:31

Possibly the Brenva Glacier near Mont Blanc.

See the 2010 Master's Thesis by Patrizia Imhof at University of Bern: "Glacier fluctuations in the Italian Mont Blanc massif from the Little Ice Age until the present"

See especially section 4.4.4 "First artistic works on the Brenva and beginning advance by the end of the 18th century" (p.65) and section 4.4.5 "The well-documented LIA maximum in 1818" (p.68).

Apparently the advancing glacier overtopped a ridge and spilled into the valley below destroying a chapel.


There is also a description from 1776 of the same glacier which Google Translate renders as:

The bed of this glacier is one league [about 4 km] wide, so that the torrent, which descends from the Allée Blanche, gets lost under the ice, from where it then leaves by an arch of ice of extraordinary beauty

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    Interesting, and thanks. The point the commentator is making, though, is that even a small trickle of water can cause enough pressure to be built up to cause a collapse or landslide, so that doesn't sound like quite the same thing. – Meir Jul 8 '20 at 13:49

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