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Inventory data of rock avalanches in the Saint Elias Mountains of southeast Alaska, derived from Landsat imagery (1984-2019)

June 2, 2020

Glacial retreat and mountain-permafrost degradation resulting from rising global temperatures have the potential to impact the frequency and magnitude of landslides in glaciated environments. In the Saint Elias Mountains of southeast Alaska, the presence of weak sedimentary and metamorphic rocks and active uplift resulting from the collision of the Yakutat and North American tectonic plates create landslide-prone conditions (Winkler et al., 2000). We used Landsat imagery to create an inventory of large (0.1 square km) rock avalanches that occurred along the south flank of the Saint Elias Mountains between 1984 and 2019 as a baseline for present and future changes in landslide magnitude and frequency.

This data release presents geographic information system (GIS) and attribute data for 220 rock avalanches in a 3700 square km area of the Saint Elias Mountains, Alaska. Map data consist of polygons delineating total rock avalanche areas (StEliasRockAvalanches.shp), headscarp points (StEliasRockAvHS.shp), and travel distance lines (StEliasRockAvTD.shp). Attribute data for mapped rock avalanches include area (undifferentiated source and deposit areas), travel distance (L), fall height (H), ratio of H/L, and headscarp location (latitude, longitude), elevation, slope, and aspect. Attribute data also include the event date range and information on the Landsat images used to identify and map each rock avalanche. Data are provided as point, line, and polygon shape files (.shp). We also include information on the Landsat images that were used for rock avalanche identification and mapping (LandsatImagery.csv).

Reference:
Winkler, G.R., MacKevett, E.M., Plafker, G. Jr., Richter, D.H., Rosenkrans, D.S., and Schmoll, H.R., 2000, A geologic guide to Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska, A tectonic collage of northbound terranes: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1616, 166 p.

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