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Progress and lessons learned from responses to landslide disasters

December 22, 2020

Landslides have the incredible power to transform landscapes and also, tragically, to cause disastrous societal impacts. Whereas the mechanics and effects of many landslide disasters have been analyzed in detail, the means by which landslide experts respond to these events has garnered much less attention. Herein, we evaluate nine landslide response case histories conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey over the past two decades and summarize the event history, the response conducted, and the lessons learned from each event. We group the responses into three categories—providing event context from past events, addressing ongoing hazards, and acquiring data for the future—and present the nine case studies accordingly. We also summarize the progress in landslide response that has been made over the past two decades, including insights and advancements on the preparation for such events, the use of new technologies, and the importance of clear communication between all parties during disasters. We believe that exchanging and sharing experiences such as these will promote more clear and successful approaches for responses to landslide disasters in the future.