Under what circumstances do U.S. Geological Survey landslide personnel conduct field work in landslide-prone areas?

USGS landslide researchers have ongoing field projects in several areas of the United States, including parts of the Pacific coastal ranges, Rocky Mountains, and the Appalachians. USGS scientists also respond to major landslide events, including some that result in federally-declared disasters. In some cases, USGS scientists respond to landslides in foreign countries that request assistance through diplomatic channels.

Learn more: USGS Landslide Hazards

Related Content

Filter Total Items: 10

What should I know about wildfires and debris flows?

Wildland fires are inevitable in the western United States. Expansion of human development into forested areas has created a situation where wildfires can adversely affect lives and property, as can the flooding and landslides that occur in the aftermath of the fires. There is a need to develop tools and methods to identify and quantify the...

How do landslides cause tsunamis?

Tsunamis are large, potentially deadly and destructive sea waves, most of which are formed as a result of submarine earthquakes. They can also result from the eruption or collapse of island or coastal volcanoes and from giant landslides on marine margins. These landslides, in turn, are often triggered by earthquakes. Tsunamis can be generated on...

Can major landslides and debris flows happen in all areas of the U.S.?

Landslides can and do occur in every state and territory of the U.S.; however, the type, severity and frequency of landslide activity varies from place to place, depending on the terrain, geology, and climate. Major storms have caused major or widespread landslides in Washington state, Oregon, California, Colorado, Idaho, Hawaii, Virginia, Ohio,...

Is there a list of the largest landslides in the world?

See the list of Catastrophic Landslides of the 20th Century - Worldwide . The five largest Worldwide Landslides are: 1911 - Tadzhik Republic - 2,000,000,000 cubic meters of material - 54 killed 1919 - Indonesia - 185 square kilometers of material - 5,110 killed 1920 - China - unknown volume - 100,000 killed 1921 - Kazakh Republic - unknown volume...

What was the biggest landslide in the world?

The largest landslide on Earth in recorded history occurred during the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens , a volcano in the Cascade Mountain Range in the State of Washington, USA. The volume of material was 0.67 cubic miles (2.8 cubic kilometers) and the landslide traveled about 14 miles down the North Fork Toutle River. Average landslide depth...

What is the difference between a landslide advisory, a landslide watch, and a landslide warning?

An advisory is a general statement about the potential of landslide activity in a given region relative to developing rainfall predictions. An advisory may include general statements about rainfall conditions that can lead to debris-flow activity, and list precautions to be taken in the event of heavy rainfall. A watch means that landslide-...

How many deaths result from landslides each year?

An average of 25-50 people are killed by landslides each year in the United States. The worldwide death toll per year due to landslides is in the thousands. Most landslide fatalities are from rock falls, debris-flows, or volcanic debris flows (called lahars). Twenty three people were killed, at least 167 injured, and more than 400 homes were...

Do human activities cause landslides?

Yes, in some cases human activities can be a contributing factor in causing landslides. Many human-caused landslides can be avoided or mitigated. They are commonly a result of building roads and structures without adequate grading of slopes, poorly planned alteration of drainage patterns, and disturbing old landslides. Detailed on-site...

Why study landslides?

Landslides are a serious geologic hazard common to almost every State in the United States. 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...

What is a landslide and what causes one?

A landslide is defined as the movement of a mass of rock, debris, or earth down a slope. Landslides are a type of "mass wasting," which denotes any down-slope movement of soil and rock under the direct influence of gravity. The term "landslide" encompasses five modes of slope movement: falls, topples, slides, spreads, and flows. These are further...
Filter Total Items: 8
Date published: March 20, 2019

Five Years Later - The Oso (SR 530) Landslide in Washington

The Oso (SR 530) Landslide in Washington - Five Years Later 

The following is an updated version of a story first published in March of 2015.

Date published: July 20, 2017

Landslide Assistance from the Air

The USGS uses cutting edge technologies to investigate and forecast landslides and other natural hazards.

Date published: July 11, 2017

Huge landslide on California’s Big Sur coast continues to change

The Mud Creek landslide on California’s Big Sur coast keeps eroding.

Date published: June 1, 2017

USGS maps, measures huge landslide on California's Big Sur coast

USGS scientists analyzing before-and-after air photos have calculated the size of the May 20 landslide on California’s Big Sur coast, about 140 miles south of San Francisco. 

Date published: May 27, 2017

USGS helping to monitor and assess huge Big Sur landslide

USGS is collecting and analyzing air photos to help monitor a huge landslide that occurred May 20 on California’s Big Sur coast.

Date published: November 4, 2016

Imagery Reveals More Landslides in Western Columbia Gorge

New mapping in the western portion of the Columbia Gorge in Skamania County, Washington, shows previously unrecognized landslides beneath dense forest cover.

Date published: September 16, 2016

EarthView–Landslide Spreads 6 Miles Across Glacier Bay National Park

Two snapshots from Landsat show the extent of a landslide in an Alaska National Park.

Date published: October 13, 2005

Protecting Communities from Landslides

New report identifies best practices for protecting communities
 

Filter Total Items: 11
A USGS Research Geologist takes photographs of Puerto Rican hillsides from a U.S. Army helicopter to document landslides.
December 31, 2017

Documenting landslides in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria.

Bill Schulz, USGS Research Geologist, takes photographs of Puerto Rican hillsides from a U.S. Army helicopter to document landslides caused by Hurricane Maria. This work will help identify areas around Puerto Rico with the highest risk of more landslides, which is information the Federal Emergency Management Agency will use to determine the best way to mitigate and prepare

...
New Zealand Landslides
December 31, 2016

New Zealand Landslides

Photograph showing Papatea Fault surface rupture near Waipapa Bay in New Zealand. The fault moved about 10 m horizontally and uplifted shoreline platform about 2 m at this location.

As many as 80,000 landslides occurred as the result of a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in New Zealand in November of 2016. The earthquake and landslides caused casualties and significant

...
Attribution: Landslide Hazards
October 27, 2016

PubTalk 10/2016 — Rockfalls in California's Sierra Nevada

Rock falls in California’s Sierra Nevada - Pursuing explanations for exfoliation and seemingly spontaneous fracture of rock
 

Oso landslide. Huge swath of mountain missing.
December 31, 2014

Oso landslide

Oso landslide 2014

Attribution: Natural Hazards
A volcano monitoring “spider” deployed by helicopter to the Oso landslide to track ground movement and seismicity
June 4, 2014

A volcano monitoring “spider” deployed to the Oso landslide

A volcano monitoring “spider” was deployed by helicopter to the Oso landslide to track ground movement and seismicity while search-and-rescue operations were ongoing.  The spider was equipped with a seismometer (mounted on the far left leg) to track ground shaking and GPS (a dome-shaped instrument on the upper mast) to track subtle ground movement.  Data was transmitted

...
May 9, 2012

Volcano Web Shorts 2: Debris Flows

Debris flows are hazardous flows of rock, sediment and water that surge down mountain slopes and into adjacent valleys. Hydrologist Richard Iverson describes the nature of debris-flow research and explains how debris flow experiments are conducted at the USGS Debris Flow Flume, west of Eugene, Oregon. Spectacular debris flow footage, recorded by Franck Lavigne of the

...
A person looking across the valley using a laser scanning the entire Cleveland Corral landslide.
May 4, 2010

Laser scanning the entire Cleveland Corral landslide

Laser scanning the entire Cleveland Corral landslide from across the valley during an active spring (2010).  Repeat scans are used to detect movement throughout the slide.

Landslide monitoring station view of the San Gabriel Mountains with regrowth of vegetation
December 31, 2009

Landslide monitoring site

Vegetation recovery in Arroyo Seco six years after the 2009 Station Fire, CA.

Image: 2005 Landslide in La Conchita, CA
January 10, 2005

2005 Landslide in La Conchita, CA

On January 10, 2005, a landslide struck the community of La Conchita in Ventura County, California, destroying or seriously damaging 36 houses and killing 10 people. For a USGS rerpot on this event, please see USGS Open-file report, "Landslide Hazards at La Conchita, California."

Attribution: Natural Hazards
Aerial view of the Mill Creek landslide blocking Highway 50.
January 24, 1997

Mill Creek landslide

Photo 1: Aerial view of the Mill Creek landslide blocking Highway 50.

Image: Earthquake and Landslides in the Union of the Comoros

Earthquake and Landslides in the Union of the Comoros

Heavy rains from a tropical cyclone struck the islands of the Comoros in March, 2014. On the island of Anjouan in the Union of Comoros, these rains triggered landslides that displaced over 3000 people to refugee camps. The USGS and the OFDA with USAID are providing support and research assistance on these events. This photo shows USGS landslide scientist Jonathan Stock

...
Attribution: Natural Hazards