Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Landslides - Cause and effect

January 1, 1976

Landslides can cause seismic disturbances; landslides can also result from seismic disturbances, and earthquake-induced slides have caused loss of life in many countries. Slides can cause disastrous flooding, particularly when landslide dams across streams are breached, and flooding may trigger slides. Slope movement in general is a major process of the geologic environment that places constraints on engineering development. In order to understand and foresee both the causes and effects of slope movement, studies must be made on a regional scale, at individual sites, and in the laboratory.

Areal studies — some embracing entire countries — have shown that certain geologic conditions on slopes facilitate landsliding; these conditions include intensely sheared rocks; poorly consolidated, fine-grained clastic rocks; hard fractured rocks underlain by less resistant rocks; or loose accumulations of fine-grained surface debris.

Field investigations as well as mathematical- and physical-model studies are increasing our understanding of the mechanism of slope movement in fractured rock, and assist in arriving at practical solutions to landslide problems related to all kinds of land development for human use. Progressive failure of slopes has been studied in both soil and rock mechanics. New procedures have been developed to evaluate earthquake response of embankments and slopes. The finite element method of analysis is being extensively used in the calculation of slope stability in rock broken by joints, faults, and other discontinuities.

Publication Year 1976
Title Landslides - Cause and effect
DOI 10.1007/BF02634797
Authors D. H. Radbruch-Hall, D. J. Varnes
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Bulletin of the International Association of Engineering Geology
Index ID 70000763
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse