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The M=7.4 that struck just offshore western Guatemala yesterday is now believed to have killed at least 48 people, with more people thought to still be buried in the rubble. The location of the epicenter of the earthquake, as measured by the USGS, indicates that there is high ground within the area that might be expected to have suffered high peak ground accelerations (as the Google Earth perspective view below shows), indicating that landslides are likely:
Inevitably, the area affected by landslides is both remote and inaccessible in the aftermath of the earthquake, so a proper understanding of the landslides will take some time. In the meantime, there is some evidence that landslides have been a significant problem. The BBC has two images that show landslides. Read the rest of this entry »
Ten years ago, on 1st September 2002, I started a small experiment to try to collect data on landslides that kill people. The key findings of that research to date were recently published in Geology, although I should note that the paper covered only seven of the 10 years of data, and only covered non-seismic landslides. I am still happy to email a copy of the paper to anyone who wants it by the way, and hope that I will soon have an online version for free download (once the page charges have been paid by my university).
People often ask why I started to collect this dataset. The initial trigger was a question asked by a friend from another field, who enquired as to how many people die from landslides each year. I suddenly realised that not only did I not know, but that there was no credible dataset that addressed the question. I decided that the newly available news aggregator tools, such as Google News, might offer an opportunity to collect this sort of data. So I must admit that when I set out to do this I did not expect it to last long, or indeed to generate a scientifically interesting dataset. That it has been both long-lived and scientifically valuable has been a surprise. Read more
The journal Geology has placed online a paper that I have written detailing the global cost of landslides worldwide. This is the definitive paper (so far) describing the results of my research over the last decade (I started on 1st September 2002, so am nearly at the tenth anniversary). Ironically, it is likely that today the total number of in the database, excluding landslides caused by earthquakes, will reach 40,000.
For copyright reasons I am not allowed to publish the paper online, but the publisher’s website for the paper is here. I have also placed some resources regarding the paper on our FTP site, and I am allowed to email a copy of the paper to you (so feel free to email me on: email@example.com. Read more
This past weekend has seen substantial landslide incidents around the world. Here are just a few of them, in no particular order:
1. An ongoing local landslide emergency in Quesnel, British Columbia, Canada
Thanks to Andrew Giles for highlighting this one. The town of Quesnel in British Columbia, Canada has declared a local state of emergency because of a landslide dam that is partially blocking a river, Baker Creek, upstream of the town:
The concern is that the blockage could fail quickly, releasing a flash flood that would affect houses downstream. However, it should be noted that the dam is considered to be unlikely to fail rapidly, and that the peak flood is expected to be less than that experienced during flood season. Read more
IHRR was very pleased to welcome Prof Sue Kieffer from the University of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign as a COFUND Senior Research Fellow. During her time in the Institute, Sue researched highly energetic geologic events, particularly comparing and contrasting the behaviour of torrential river floods with that of large landslides. Sue is one of the world’s leading authorities on geological fluid dynamics that addresses dynamic surface processes, such as movement of water and wind and the dynamics of volcanic eruptions and meteorite impacts. Her work has made a large impact on the geosciences, especially understanding the geologic processes that lead to different kinds of hazards, such as floods and landslides. Sue’s research spans terrestrial as well as extraterrestrial environments as her geyser theory developed early in her academic career was applied to the study of volcanoes on Io, one of Jupiter’s moons. Also, her shock wave theory was used to study the historic eruption of Mt St Helens and the massive flood on the Colorado River in 1983. Read more