Landslides: Raising Awareness and Preparedness


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Landslide Warnings and Protection

List of Types of Landslides. Image by USGS.

Here’s a list of the various types of landslides. Image by USGS.

There are three responses required for proper protection from landslides, namely:

  • Early-warning monitoring;
  • Engineering protection devices e.g. Sabo dams; and
  • Proper disaster response and follow-up research.

Monitoring, to a certain degree, receives an assist through the power of geotechnology, instrumentation, remote sensing, and information communication. Using radar, science can even monitor unstable areas in real-time during unfavorable weather conditions.

Follow-up research is also vital. After the 2011 Virginia Earthquake, as reported in Decoded Science, scientists from the USGS used field techniques to map, in painstaking detail and down to a small scale, the extent of the landslides attributable to the earthquake.”

Concerned about local ground movement? Watch for, and report, changes such as the tilting of trees, bulging of retaining walls, and widespread ground subsidence, or shifting downward.

Vulnerability to Landslide Hazards

How vulnerable is your area to landslides? Science estimates vulnerability to landslide hazards by evaluating a variety of factors, including the location, the type of human activity in the area, and how frequently landslides have occurred in the past.

In the Puget Sound region of the U.S., for instance, the vulnerability is very high. Where I live, however, the risk is considerably less. Regardless of where you live, you may have friends or family in a landslide-prone area, so be aware and be prepared.


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Petley, Dave. The Landslide Blog. (2013). Accessed September 15, 2013.

Sassa, Kyoli and Canuti, Paolo (ed). Disaster Risk Reduction.  (2009). Springer. Accessed September 15, 2013.

USGS. Landslide Hazards Program Accessed September 15, 2013.

USGS. Landslide Types and Processes. (2004). Accessed September 15, 2013.

USGS. Worldwide Overview of Large Landslides of the 20th and 21st Centuries. Accessed September 14, 2013.

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