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AGS / Geohazards / Landslides / General Information


Mass wasting is the downslope movement of rock and soils under the affect of gravity. Mass wasting can occur very slowly or very suddenly in a matter of seconds. A landslide is a general term that geologists use to describe this downslope movement.


What Triggers A Landslide?

Landslide on road Landslide on road

Landslides are the result of several interrelated factors. Degree of slope, nature of the soils/rock, vegetation cover, but most especially excessive water play a role in their development. Water acts as the lubricant in the landslide equation as well as adding additional weight to the scene. A number of somewhat outside factors can trigger landslides. Earthquakes, heavy rains, mining or construction activities are all major agents that trigger landslides.


Types Of Landslides

Landslides are classified based mostly on their character of movement and degree of internal disruption. These landslide classes are roc fall, flow, slide, and creep. Although these are clear divisions, in the real world a landslide may have components of more than one type.

Types of Landslides Graphic
Rockfall Flows

Rockfall: Occurs when a block of coherent material (sediment, soil, rock) falls freely from a steep or undercut bank. This type of landslides is most commonly seen in quarry highwalls, vertical roadcuts, bluffs, and stream cut banks.

Flows: The downslope displacement of incoherent soils or regolith in the manner of a viscous fluid. Flows are a common minor component of slides and falls but in a few cases dominate the mass wasting process. Flows tend to extend well beyond the boundaries of the site of failure.

Rockslides: The downslope displacement of coherent masses of earth material along one or more well-developed failure planes. Slides can further be divided into:

Landslide


Preventing Landslides

Landslides can be a major geological hazard. They can happen unexpected, and homes, vehicles, and other property can be damaged or destroyed. Hazards may be avoided with proper planning and detailed geologic investigations of an area before new roads, businesses, or homes are constructed. In areas that are prone to landslides, proper monitoring of slope movement can help scientists and engineers determine landslide potential.








Carpet Slide
Landslide on road


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Arkansas Geological Survey
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