Landslides - 2 of 22

Landslides FAQs - 22 Found

Why study landslides?

Landslides are a serious geologic hazard common to almost every State in the United States. It is estimated that in the United States they cause in excess of $1 billion in damages and from about 25 to 50 deaths each year. Globally, landslides cause billions of dollars in damages and thousands of deaths and injuries each year (Schuster, 1996; Kirshbaum and others, 2009).


As people move into new areas of hilly or mountainous terrain, it is important to understand the nature of their potential exposure to landslide hazards, and how cities, towns, and counties can plan for land-use, engineering of new construction and infrastructure, and other measures which will reduce the costs of living with landslides. Although the physical causes of many landslides cannot be removed, geologic investigations, good engineering practices, and effective enforcement of land-use management regulations can reduce landslide hazards.  It is also important to understand the science of landslides – their causes, movement characteristics, soil properties, the geology associated with them, and where they are likely to occur. The USGS Landslide Hazards Program helps address these needs for improved understanding by conducting research on several fundamental aspects of landslides. Thus, USGS landslide research seeks answers to such questions as these:


  • Where and when will landslides occur?

  • How big will they be? 

  • How fast and how far will landslides move?

The USGS National Landslide Information Center (NLIC) is a part of the U.S. Geological Survey Landslide Hazards Program that collects and distributes all forms of information related to landslides. The NLIC is designed to serve landslide researchers, geotechnical practitioners engaged in landslide stabilization, and anyone else concerned in any way with landslide education, hazard, safety, and mitigation.


Sources of Information:


Kirschbaum, D.B., Adler, R., Hong, Y., Hill S., and Lerner-Lam, A.L., 2009, A global landslide catalog for hazard applications – Method, Results and Limitations: Journal of Natural Hazards, v. 52 no. 3, p. 561-575.


Schuster, R.L., 1996, Socioeconomic effects of landslides, in Turner, A. K., and R.L. Schuster, Landslides: Investigation and Mitigation, Transportation Research Board Special Report 247, National Research Council, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

Tags: Landslides, Liquefaction, Maps, Precipitation, Soils