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February 6, 2020

A new landslide guidebook released February 5 is now available for Puerto Rico residents to learn more about the landslide hazards that can impact the island.

A house in Puerto Rico damaged by a landslide. USGS photo by Lindsay Davis
A house in Puerto Rico damaged by a landslide. USGS photo by Lindsay Davis

This educational resource was created to explain the causes, signs and consequences of landslides and describes practical steps that can be taken to enhance preparedness and help mitigate impacts.

Landslides are a downward movement of soil, rock and organic material affected by gravity and influenced by the shape of the terrain. Landslide hazards can be a frequent threat to life and property in Puerto Rico due to the island’s steep terrain, heavy rainfall often generated by hurricanes and other tropical weather systems, and earthquakes.

When Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017, the major storm triggered more than 70,000 landslides across the island. These landslides disrupted transportation routes, dislodged homes from their foundations on steep hillsides and caused both direct and indirect loss of life.

After the hurricane, and based on local requests, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado Boulder partnered with University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez faculty and students to develop a landslide guidebook intended to help residents of Puerto Rico understand and reduce landslide risk.

The guidebook can also be used as a tool for organizations, universities, agencies, emergency managers and planners to promote landslide awareness and resilience throughout the island as part of hazard education and outreach activities. The guidebook was a collaborative effort that engaged a wide variety of experts from agencies, organizations and universities, and it was supported by funds provided to the USGS as part of the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act 2018.

The guidebook is available in English and Spanish. For more information visit:

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