On October 12, 2017, USGS unmanned aerial systems collected video footage of the Mud Creek landslide, which buried California State Highway 1 under a third-of-a-mile-wide mass of rock and dirt on May 20, 2017.
USGS scientists have been monitoring the slide by transforming photos shot from an airplane into 3D maps. They applied the same software to the October 12, 2017 unmanned aerial systems (UAS, also known as "drone") footage, producing detailed views of how the slide mass has changed. The scientists share their findings with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to help that agency assess the slide and plan reconstruction of Highway 1. USGS will continue collecting drone footage of the Mud Creek landslide to supplement broader coverage provided by photos shot during airplane flights along the central California coast.
"Warmer" colors of reds, oranges, and yellows show loss of elevation, up to 4 meters lost (dark red); "cooler" colors of blues and purples show a gain in elevation, up to 4 meters gained (purple). Some of the gains and losses on the landslide are attributed to Caltrans’ heavy equipment moving sediment and boulders as they grade the landslide material in preparation for Highway 1 reconstruction. Some of the loss (red colors) of elevation, right in the middle of the slide and at the water's edge, is due to erosion by wave activity.