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Landslides I
Dude where’s your house!

Photo: Brett Gilley

The Trip

Photo: Brett Gilley

The Trip

Photo: Brett Gilley

Beauty and Disaster on the Sea
to Sky Highway
(Optional but worth it!)
 Saturday, October 14th 8:15 to 5-
 Low, low price of $15

 Sign up in EOAS Main Office – ESB

Goals for today
(Study with these!)
1. Describe how the impact of landslides depends on:
Population density, Economic infrastructure, and
Population Preparedness
2. Explain why British Columbia has the highest
frequency of landslides in Canada and what we should
expect as our population expands into the mountains
3. Distinguish between the 3 main failure modes (falls,
flows, and slides) and how they are influenced by
4. Categorize, Identify, and Name a variety of different
Note some slides near the end of
this lecture are not explicitly
covered during lecture.
You are still responsible for this
information (i.e. it’s in the
learning goals)
Even with Landslides
All roads lead to Rome …
“And as a rock falls precipitate
from some mountain-crest, torn
thence by the wind, or washed
forth by the swollen rains, or
loosened by the stealthy lapse of
years; under mighty impulse the
destroying cliff crashes in abrupt
descent and bounds over earth,
involving in its train forests and Photo: Brett Gilley

herds and men…” men and women anyone who doesn’t pay
attention to the next 4 classes
Virgil (20 BCE), “The Aeneid”
Clicker Question
Have you, a close friend, or family
member, ever seen a landslide
(A) No
(B) Yes, in the distance.
(C) Yes, very close, but everyone was okay
(D) Yes, and it caused damage (to person
or property)
Clicker Question
Right now how far are you from the
nearest landslide prone area?
A) 10 minute walk
B) 30 minute drive
C) 2 hour drive
D) 30 minute drive and 2 hour ferry
Turn to your neighbour.
1) What were the important
features of that landslide?
2) Is there anything else you
noticed in the video?
Landslide or Mass
Mass movement
Mass wasting
So really…
Who cares?

Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives

Clicker Question
Do own or do you ever plan to own
property with a view?
A – Yes
B - No
Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives
Photo: Washington State Department
of Natural Resourcesves
Photo: Joe Coyle
Photo: flickr user fox2mike
Photo: flickr user fox2mike
Learning from the Past

Photo: Rob McWhinney

Frank Slide, Alberta (1903) – 70 dead
… Turtle Mountain was known to the
First Nations people as the “Mountain
that Walks”.
Not Learning from the Past
La Conchita Landslide, CA Reactivation of La Conchita
(1995) – no fatalities Landslide (2005) – 10 fatalities
Clicker Question
Where is the best place to build a house?

Landslide Impacts
Why are some landslides so much
more damaging to people and or
Photo: Martin Collazos
Huascaran, Peru (1970)
2.5 million m3 of rock – 25,000 dead

Photos: USGS
Pemberton, B.C. (2010)
~40 million m3 – 0 fatalities

Photos: John J.
Clicker Question
Why was the landslide in Peru so much more
A) There were more rocks released that moved
faster and further
B) City planners in Pemberton did research and
knew not to put a town there (Developed
C) There was a higher vulnerability in Peru
D) There was a higher hazard in Peru
E) The time of day the slide occurred
Landslide Impacts
Human and Economic impacts of
landslides are broadly governed by:
1) Population density (lives and
2) Cost of infrastructure ($$$)
3) Population preparedness (both)
Local Human Impacts
North Vancouver
Riverside Drive (2005)
– 1 fatality
Local Economic Impacts

Porteau Cove Rockslide

(2008) – Highway 99
closed 1 week in high

Photo: Me
Clicker Question
On average, how often does a landslide occur
on the Sea-to-Sky Highway (HWY 99)?
A) About once every 50 years
B) About once every 10 years
C) About once per year
D) More than once per month
E) Every day
Clicker Question
On average, how often does a landslide
close the Sea-to-Sky Highway (HWY 99)?
A) About once every 50 years
B) About once every 10 years
C) About once per year
D) More than once per month
E) Every day
Human Impacts
Canada: ~3 lives/yr
USA: ~30 lives/yr

Japan: ~200 lives/yr

Proportion of Hazard Fatalities
Canada 24% of all Geohazard deaths
are from landslides
USA ~1%
Japan <1

Tajikistan 19%
Peru 12%
Human Impacts
Reported yearly landslide fatalities are a
low number 1000s or so
Unfortunately underestimated
Most fatalities are associated with the
landslide trigger (earthquakes, floods,
volcanoes etc.)
Not the landslide itself
Human Impacts
Dave Petley (of:
http://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/ )
Google searched worldwide on landslide
2004-2010 ~ 33000 deaths!
~5000 per year!
Economic Impacts
Impossible to determine.
Some Estimates:
Canada – $1.4 Billion per year
US - $3.5 Billion
Japan - $4 Billion
Venezuela - $62 Million
Clicker Question
Why are the economic impacts of
landslides so much lower in Venezuela?
A) There are fewer landslides
B) Less people are injured
C) Less buildings are damaged
D) The cost of rebuilding is less
E) There are far fewer mountains
Why do we care?
We want to live
(Deaths and injury)
We want to own property that
doesn’t get destroyed
($$$ economy and rebuilding)
Fatal landslides 2002-2008

Image: David Petley

Fatal Landslides in BC


10- 50


Natural Resources
Why BC ?
What do you think?
• Mountainous terrain
• Lots of Rain
• Complex geology
• Unconsolidated glacial
• Many Triggers

BC Ministry of Energy
and Mines
Classification of Landslides
(i.e. Names)
Classified by
1) Type of material
2) Type of movement
3) Rate of movement

The name is usually

Combination of 1 and 2

Photo: Washington State Department of Transportation

1) Type of material
• Rock
• Soil/Earth
• Mud
• Debris (mixture of rock, earth,
trees, water, and whatever was
on the slope)
2) Type of Motion
a) Falls
b) Slides – Cohesive block moves on a failure
i. Curved/bowl shaped failure surface:
Rotational slide
ii. Flat/planar failure surface: Translational
c) Flows – fluid motion (Chaotic, can be fast or slow)
d) Complex movements
3) Rate of Movement
If the movement is “slow” or slower
The name will be:
Creep, Soil flow, or Earth flow
Worksheet 1
Targets these learning goals:
Distinguish between the 3 main failure modes
(falls, flows, and slides) and how they are
influenced by geology
Categorize, Identify, and Name a variety of
different landslides
2) Type of movement
a) Falls
–Occur on very steep
slopes (usually rock)
–Material detaches
because of weakness
(fractures etc.)
–Falls due to gravity
–Very fast!

Photo by Flickr user Dru!

Photo: Brett Gilley
2) Type of movement
b) Slides
–Vary from slow to fast
–Usually soil, rock or debris
–Material moves as a coherent mass
along a surface of failure
(either curved or straight)
2) Type of movement
Figure: USGS
b) Slides
If surface is curved
i) Rotational slide (Slump)
– Intermediate Speed
– Usually weak material
– Rotation of material on
a curved failure plane
– Often characterized by
a curved scarp above
the slide
Curved surface of failure
Photo: Andrew Alden
2) Type of movement
b) Slides
If surface is flat Figure: USGS
ii) Translational slide
– Slow to fast
– Usually strong
material moving on
planes of weakness
– Cohesive motion of
material along a flat
Photo: Alan Wu
2) Type of movement
c) Flows
– Very slow to very fast (mudflows up to 80
– Soil, mud, wet debris, (rock)
– Water is usually very important
– Fluid or plastic flow of material (chaotic)

Soil Creep

Photo Flickr User Vertigogen

2) Type of movement
d) Complex Movements
–Combinations of Mass movements
–Eg. A slide that becomes a fall
Photo: John J. Clague
Classification of Landslides

Type of Type of Slope Classification

Material Movement Name

Rock Fall Rock Fall

Debris Flow
Earth Slide Rock Slide
Debris Slide
Earth Slide
Worksheet Photo 1

Photo: Washington State Department of Transportation

Worksheet Photo 2

Photo USGS
Worksheet Photo 3

Photo by John Clague

Worksheet Photo 4

Photo: Nasa
Worksheet Photo 5
Photo 6

Photo USGS
Photo by John Clague