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Landslides across the United States: Occurrence, susceptibility, and data limitations

May 29, 2020

Detailed information about landslide occurrence is the foundation for advancing process understanding, susceptibility mapping, and risk reduction. Despite the recent revolution in digital elevation data and remote sensing technologies, landslide mapping remains resource intensive. Consequently, a modern, comprehensive map of landslide occurrence across the United States (USA) has not been compiled. As a first step toward this goal, we present a national-scale compilation of existing, publicly available landslide inventories. This geodatabase can be downloaded in its entirety or viewed through an online, searchable map, with parsimonious attributes and direct links to the contributing sources with additional details. The mapped spatial pattern and concentration of landslides are consistent with prior characterization of susceptibility within the conterminous USA, with some notable exceptions on the West Coast. Although the database is evolving and known to be incomplete in many regions, it confirms that landslides do occur across the country, thus highlighting the importance of our national-scale assessment. The map illustrates regions where high-quality mapping has occurred and, in contrast, where additional resources could improve confidence in landslide characterization. For example, borders between states and other jurisdictions are quite apparent, indicating the variation in approaches to data collection by different agencies and disparity between the resources dedicated to landslide characterization. Further investigations are needed to better assess susceptibility and to determine whether regions with high relief and steep topography, but without mapped landslides, require further landslide inventory mapping. Overall, this map provides a new resource for accessing information about known landslides across the USA.

Publication Year 2020
Title Landslides across the United States: Occurrence, susceptibility, and data limitations
DOI 10.1007/s10346-020-01424-4
Authors Benjamin B. Mirus, Eric S. Jones, Rex L. Baum, Jonathan W. Godt, Stephen L. Slaughter, Matthew Crawford, Jeremy T. Lancaster, Thomas Stanley, Dalia Kirschbaum, William J. Burns, Robert G. Schmitt, Kassandra O Lindsey, Kevin McCoy
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Landslides
Index ID 70210102
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geologic Hazards Science Center