Mission Areas

Landslide Hazards

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The primary objective of the National Landslide Hazards Program (LHP) is to reduce long-term losses from landslide hazards by improving our understanding of the causes of ground failure and suggesting mitigation strategies.

Landslide Hazards Program

Landslide Hazards Program

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Landslide Monitoring

Landslide Monitoring

Monitoring is essential to predicting the behavior of landslides and forecasting which storms can trigger large numbers of landslides.

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Post-Wildfire Debris-Flow Hazards

Post-Wildfire Debris-Flow Hazards

Wildfire can significantly alter the hydrologic response of a watershed to the extent that even modest rainstorms can produce dangerous flash floods and debris flows.

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News

Natural Hazard image WGSC
September 6, 2017

With hurricanes in the east and wildfires in the west, natural hazards have the potential to impact a majority of Americans every year. USGS science provides part of the foundation for emergency preparedness whenever and wherever disaster strikes.

Turnagain Arm Railway
June 21, 2017

Subduction zone events pose significant threats to lives, property, economic vitality, cultural and natural resources and quality of life. The tremendous magnitudes of these events are unique to subduction zones, and they can have cascading consequences that reverberate around the globe.

USGS map displaying potential to experience damage from a natural or human-induced earthquake in 2017
May 15, 2017

It’s not just something you run into on a golf course-it’s this week’s EarthWord!

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USGS science for a changing world logo
March 2, 2016

Our Program researches activities to make accurate landslide hazard maps and forecasts of landslide occurrences.

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 2, 2016

Landslide sites and data for learning more about the physical processes that trigger landslides or control their movement.

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USGS logo
April 27, 2016

Landslide Monitoring

Monitoring is essential to predicting the behavior of landslides and forecasting which storms can trigger landslides. Graphs showing the most recent data are updated regularly with update cycles ranging from 15 minutes to 24 hours. Landslide monitoring data and information provided on this web site are preliminary and have not been reviewed for accuracy; therefore the data are subject to revision.

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 4, 2016

Software for Landslide Assessments and Modeling

USGS software for landslide assessments and modeling that include SLAMMER, TRIGRS, PTCOUNT and more.

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USGS science for a changing world logo
March 7, 2016

We conduct post-fire debris-flow hazard assessments for select fires in the Western U.S. We use geospatial data related to basin morphometry, burn severity, soil properties, and rainfall characteristics to estimate the probability and volume of debris flows that may occur in response to a design storm.

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 7, 2016

This map and the original delineate areas where large numbers of landslides have occurred and areas which are susceptible to landsliding in the conterminous United States.

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 7, 2016

The purpose of the Inventory Project is to provide a framework and tools for displaying and analyzing landslide inventory data collected in a spatially aware digital format from individual states.

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Year Published: 2014

Landslides in the northern Colorado Front Range caused by rainfall, September 11-13, 2013

During the second week of September 2013, nearly continuous rainfall caused widespread landslides and flooding in the northern Colorado Front Range. The combination of landslides and flooding was responsible for eight fatalities and caused extensive damage to buildings, highways, and infrastructure. Three fatalities were attributed to a fast...

Godt, Jonathan W.; Coe, Jeffrey A.; Kean, Jason W.; Baum, Rex L.; Jones, Eric S.; Harp, Edwin L.; Staley, Dennis M.; Barnhart, William D.
Attribution: Landslide Hazards
Landslides in the northern Colorado Front Range caused by rainfall, September 11-13, 2013; 2014; FS; 2013-3114; Godt, Jonathan W.; Coe, Jeffrey A.; Kean, Jason W.; Baum, Rex L.; Jones, Eric S.; Harp, Edwin L.; Staley, Dennis M.; Barnhart, William D.

Year Published: 2012

Assessment of shallow landslide potential using 1-D and 3-D slope stability analysis

Eberhardt, Erik; Froese, Corey; Turner, Keith; Leroueil, S.; Baum, R.L.; Godt, J.W.; Coe, J.A.; Reid, M.E.
Attribution: Landslide Hazards
Assessment of shallow landslide potential using 1-D and 3-D slope stability analysis; 2012; Book chapter; Book; Conference Proceedings; Landslides and Engineered Slopes, Protecting Society Through Improved Understanding: Proceedings of the 11th International and 2nd North American Symposium on Landslides and Engineered Slopes, Banff, Canada, 3-8 June; Baum, R. L.; Godt, J. W.; Coe, J. A.; Reid, M. E.

Year Published: 2012

Kinematics of the Slumgullion landslide revealed by ground-based InSAR surveys

Eberhardt, Erik; Froese, Corey; Turner, Keith; Leroueil, S.; Schulz, W.H.; Coe, J.A.; Shurtleff, B.L.; Panosky, J.; Farina, P.; Ricci, P.P.; Barsacchi, G.
Attribution: Landslide Hazards
Kinematics of the Slumgullion landslide revealed by ground-based InSAR surveys; 2012; Book chapter; Book; Conference Proceedings; Landslides and Engineered Slopes, Protecting Society Through Improved Understanding: Proceedings of the 11th International and 2nd North American Symposium on Landslides and Engineered Slopes, Banff, Canada, 3-8 June; Schulz, W. H.; Coe, J. A.; Shurtleff, B. L.; Panosky, J. ; Farina, P. ; Ricci, P. P.; Barsacchi, G.

Year Published: 2012

Prototype landslide hazard map of the conterminous United States

Eberhardt, Erik; Froese, Corey; Turner, Keith; Leroueil, S.; Godt, J.W.; Coe, J.A.; Baum, R.L.; Highland, L.M.; Keaton, J.R.; Roth, R.J.
Attribution: Landslide Hazards
Prototype landslide hazard map of the conterminous United States; 2012; Book chapter; Book; Conference Proceedings; Landslides and Engineered Slopes, Protecting Society Through Improved Understanding: Proceedings of the 11th International and 2nd North American Symposium on Landslides and Engineered Slopes, Banff, Canada, 3-8 June; Godt, J. W.; Coe, J. A.; Baum, R. L.; Highland, L. M.; Keaton, J. R.; Roth, R. J., Jr.

Year Published: 2012

Real-time monitoring of landslides

Landslides cause fatalities and property damage throughout the Nation. To reduce the impact from hazardous landslides, the U.S. Geological Survey develops and uses real-time and near-real-time landslide monitoring systems. Monitoring can detect when hillslopes are primed for sliding and can provide early indications of rapid, catastrophic movement...

Reid, Mark E.; LaHusen, Richard G.; Baum, Rex L.; Kean, Jason W.; Schulz, William H.; Highland, Lynn M.
Attribution: Landslide Hazards
Real-time monitoring of landslides; 2012; FS; 2012-3008; Reid, Mark E.; LaHusen, Richard G.; Baum, Rex L.; Kean, Jason W.; Schulz, William H.; Highland, Lynn M.

Year Published: 2010

Relations Between Rainfall and Postfire Debris-Flow and Flood Magnitudes for Emergency-Response Planning, San Gabriel Mountains, Southern California

Following wildfires, emergency-response and public-safety agencies are faced often with making evacuation decisions and deploying resources both well in advance of each coming winter storm and during storms themselves. Information critical to this process is provided for recently burned areas in the San Gabriel Mountains of southern California....

Cannon, Susan H.; Boldt, Eric M.; Kean, Jason W.; Laber, Jayme; Staley, Dennis M.
Attribution: Landslide Hazards
Relations Between Rainfall and Postfire Debris-Flow and Flood Magnitudes for Emergency-Response Planning, San Gabriel Mountains, Southern California; 2010; OFR; 2010-1039; Cannon, Susan H.; Boldt, Eric M.; Kean, Jason W.; Laber, Jayme; Staley, Dennis M.

Year Published: 2010

Predicting the probability and volume of postwildfire debris flows in the intermountain western United States

Empirical models to estimate the probability of occurrence and volume of postwildfire debris flows can be quickly implemented in a geographic information system (GIS) to generate debris-flow hazard maps either before or immediately following wildfires. Models that can be used to calculate the probability of debris-flow production from individual...

Cannon, S.H.; Gartner, J.E.; Rupert, M.G.; Michael, J.A.; Rea, A.H.; Parrett, C.
Attribution: Landslide Hazards
Predicting the probability and volume of postwildfire debris flows in the intermountain western United States; 2010; Article; Journal; Bulletin of the Geological Society of America; Cannon, S. H.; Gartner, J. E.; Rupert, M. G.; Michael, J. A.; Rea, A. H.; Parrett, C.

Year Published: 2008

Landslides and engineering geology of the Seattle, Washington, area

This volume brings together case studies and summary papers describing the application of state-of-the-art engineering geologic methods to landslide hazard analysis for the Seattle, Washington, area. An introductory chapter provides a thorough description of the Quaternary and bedrock geology of Seattle. Nine additional chapters review the history...

Baum, Rex L.; Godt, Jonathan W.; Highland, Lynn M.
Attribution: Landslide Hazards
Landslides and engineering geology of the Seattle, Washington, area; 2008; Book; 20; Edited by Baum, Rex L.; Godt, Jonathan W.; Highland, Lynn M.

Year Published: 2008

The Landslide Handbook - A Guide to Understanding Landslides

This handbook is intended to be a resource for people affected by landslides to acquire further knowledge, especially about the conditions that are unique to their neighborhoods and communities. Considerable literature and research are available concerning landslides, but unfortunately little of it is synthesized and integrated to address the...

Highland, Lynn M.; Bobrowsky, Peter
Attribution: Landslide Hazards
The Landslide Handbook - A Guide to Understanding Landslides; 2008; CIR; 1325; Highland, Lynn M.; Bobrowsky, Peter

Year Published: 2007

Simulations of Potential Runout and Deposition of the Ferguson Rockslide, Merced River Canyon, California

INTRODUCTION An active rockslide in Merced River Canyon was first noticed on April 29, 2006 when a few rocks rolled onto Highway 140 between mileposts 103 and 104, compromising traffic on this highway and signaling the onset of renewed activity of the Ferguson rockslide. State highway 140 is one of the main entrances to Yosemite National Park...

Denlinger, Roger P.
Attribution: Landslide Hazards
Simulations of Potential Runout and Deposition of the Ferguson Rockslide, Merced River Canyon, California; 2007; OFR; 2007-1275; Denlinger, Roger P.

Year Published: 2007

Modeling 3-D Slope Stability of Coastal Bluffs Using 3-D Ground-Water Flow, Southwestern Seattle, Washington

Landslides are a common problem on coastal bluffs throughout the world. Along the coastal bluffs of the Puget Sound in Seattle, Washington, landslides range from small, shallow failures to large, deep-seated landslides. Landslides of all types can pose hazards to human lives and property, but deep-seated landslides are of significant concern...

Brien, Dianne L.; Reid, Mark E.
Attribution: Landslide Hazards
Modeling 3-D Slope Stability of Coastal Bluffs Using 3-D Ground-Water Flow, Southwestern Seattle, Washington; 2007; SIR; 2007-5092; Brien, Dianne L.; Reid, Mark E.

Year Published: 2007

Riding the storm--landslide danger in the San Francisco Bay Area

Movie Synopsis: --A catastrophic 1982 rainstorm triggered 18,000 landslides in the Bay Area, claiming 25 lives and causing $66 million in property damage. --The combination of steep slopes, weak rocks, and intense winter storms make Bay Area uplands an ideal setting for landslides. --Landslides include both swift, potentially deadly...

Adams, Karen
Attribution: Landslide Hazards
Riding the storm--landslide danger in the San Francisco Bay Area; 2007; GIP; 48; Producer/Director/Editor Adams, Karen

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July 14, 2017

The USGS and its cooperators have installed debris-flow monitoring equipment in the largest drainage basin at Chalk Cliffs, CO. Data collection at this site supports research on the hydrologic factors that control debris-flow initiation, entrainment, and flow dynamics.

This debris flow took place July 19, 2017. The video includes a single view of an instrumented reach of the channel. A larger zoomed view is included.

Chalk Cliffs, located 8 miles southwest of Buena Vista, CO, is one of the most active debris-flow areas in the state. Typically one or more debris flows occur each year after intense or prolonged rainfall. The debris flows are triggered by surface-water runoff over loose material stored in channels.

https://landslides.usgs.gov/monitoring/chalk_cliffs/

January 20, 2017

The June 2016 Fish Fire burned over 12 km^2 in Los Angeles County, California. After the fire, the USGS installed an automated rain-triggered camera to monitor post-wildfire flooding and debris flow in a small canyon above the Las Lomas debris basin in Duarte. This video shows the peak flow triggered by an intense rainstorm on January 20, 2017.
 

New Zealand Landslides
2016 (approx.)

Photograph showing Papatea Fault surface rupture near Waipapa Bay in New Zealand. The fault moved about 10 m horizontally and uplifted shoreline platform about 2 m at this location.

As many as 80,000 landslides occurred as the result of a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in New Zealand in November of 2016. The earthquake and landslides caused casualties and significant damage to communities, including homes and transportation infrastructure. The USGS is working with New Zealand’s GNS Science in assessing the area's stability and potential impacts of landslide dams blocking stream channels in this mountainous region. Understanding the factors that contributed to the severity and extent will improve and inform the development of models and near-real-time hazard assessments. An example is USGS PAGER, which provides fatality and economic loss impact estimates following significant earthquakes worldwide. These events provide a reference for domestic earthquakes in mountainous regions, such as southern California. Scientists will also use this as an opportunity to observe how landslide dams behave, ranging from impacts on downstream flooding to sediment accumulation over the next several years.

New Zealand Landslides
2016 (approx.)

Photograph showing landslides covering State Route 1 near Ohau Point. The route was impacted my several landslides and is the main north-south highway on the eastern part of the South Island of New Zealand.

As many as 80,000 landslides occurred as the result of a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in New Zealand in November of 2016. The earthquake and landslides caused casualties and significant damage to communities, including homes and transportation infrastructure. The USGS is working with New Zealand’s GNS Science in assessing the area's stability and potential impacts of landslide dams blocking stream channels in this mountainous region. Understanding the factors that contributed to the severity and extent will improve and inform the development of models and near-real-time hazard assessments. An example is USGS PAGER, which provides fatality and economic loss impact estimates following significant earthquakes worldwide. These events provide a reference for domestic earthquakes in mountainous regions, such as southern California. Scientists will also use this as an opportunity to observe how landslide dams behave, ranging from impacts on downstream flooding to sediment accumulation over the next several years.

New Zealand Landslides
2016 (approx.)

Photograph showing a landslide-dammed lake in the headwaters of the Hapuku River in the Seaward Kaikoura mountain range in New Zealand.

As many as 80,000 landslides occurred as the result of a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in New Zealand in November of 2016. The earthquake and landslides caused casualties and significant damage to communities, including homes and transportation infrastructure. The USGS is working with New Zealand’s GNS Science in assessing the area's stability and potential impacts of landslide dams blocking stream channels in this mountainous region. Understanding the factors that contributed to the severity and extent will improve and inform the development of models and near-real-time hazard assessments. An example is USGS PAGER, which provides fatality and economic loss impact estimates following significant earthquakes worldwide. These events provide a reference for domestic earthquakes in mountainous regions, such as southern California. Scientists will also use this as an opportunity to observe how landslide dams behave, ranging from impacts on downstream flooding to sediment accumulation over the next several years.

The Chimney Tops 2 fire in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
2016 (approx.)

The fire that became known as Chimney Tops 2 started near a Great Smoky Mountains National Park landmark known as The Chimneys on or about Nov. 23, 2016.

Smoky Mountain fires on the night of Nov. 28, 2016
November 28, 2016

In an extreme drought and amid high winds, many fires burned together in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the town of Gatlinburg and nearby communities to form the deadly fire that became known as Chimney Tops 2. This photo was taken on the night of Nov. 28, 2016, as the fire was spreading rapidly.

October 27, 2016

Rock falls in California’s Sierra Nevada - Pursuing explanations for exfoliation and seemingly spontaneous fracture of rock
 

August 18, 2016

The USGS and its cooperators have installed debris-flow monitoring equipment in the largest drainage basin at Chalk Cliffs, CO. Data collection at this site supports research on the hydrologic factors that control debris-flow initiation, entrainment, and flow dynamics.

This debris flow took place August 18, 2016. The video includes two different views of an instrumented reach of the channel.

Chalk Cliffs, located 8 miles southwest of Buena Vista, CO, is one of the most active debris-flow areas in the state. Typically one or more debris flows occur each year after intense or prolonged rainfall. The debris flows are triggered by surface-water runoff over loose material stored in channels.

https://landslides.usgs.gov/monitoring/chalk_cliffs/

June 15, 2016

USGS Research Geophysicist Kate Allstadt conducts experiments at the U.S. Geological Survey debris-flow flume, near Eugene, Oregon. Dr. Allstadt and her group are working toward an understanding of how debris flows generate seismic signals. The quantitative information will be used in the development of improved technologies for detecting debris flows to mitigate their destructive effects.

view of Salt Creek rock avalanche in Western Colorado from the top
April 15, 2016

Photograph taken from a Colorado National Guard helicopter looking north down the West Salt Creek rock avalanche deposit. On May 25, 2014, the central core of the rock avalanche deposit continued to move for 1-2 hours after the main rock avalanche deposit had stopped moving. Shallow landslides on the steep valley flanks continued for at least several days after the catastrophic failure on May 25. The length of the avalanche deposit visible is about 3.5 km. The width of the avalanche deposit in the foreground is about 500 m. (Photo credit: Jeff Coe, May 30, 2014)

Filter Total Items: 10
Natural Hazard image WGSC
September 6, 2017

With hurricanes in the east and wildfires in the west, natural hazards have the potential to impact a majority of Americans every year. USGS science provides part of the foundation for emergency preparedness whenever and wherever disaster strikes.

Turnagain Arm Railway
June 21, 2017

Subduction zone events pose significant threats to lives, property, economic vitality, cultural and natural resources and quality of life. The tremendous magnitudes of these events are unique to subduction zones, and they can have cascading consequences that reverberate around the globe.

USGS map displaying potential to experience damage from a natural or human-induced earthquake in 2017
May 15, 2017

It’s not just something you run into on a golf course-it’s this week’s EarthWord!

Image: Debris Flow Damage in California
February 21, 2017

When wildfires spread and scorch the earth, people like Penny Luehring have to act fast. Secondary impacts such as debris flows can be devastating to nearby communities.

A gas plume arising from Augustine Volcano during it's eruptive phase 2005-06.
January 31, 2017

On average, how much are landslides estimated to cost the nation per year?

Smoky Mountain fires on the night of Nov. 28, 2016
December 22, 2016

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is at low risk of one common type of landslide, according to the USGS' first-ever hazard assessment for an Eastern forest fire.

Shoreline damage due to Hurricane Joaquin
September 1, 2016

September is National Preparedness Month, a time to highlight the resources available to help you and your loved ones stay as safe as possible. 

Image: Scientists Collect Data on Yosemite Rock Erosion
March 28, 2016

After more than three years of monitoring the towering granite cliffs of Yosemite National Park, scientists have new insights into a potentially important mechanism that can trigger rockfalls in the park. Although many conditions can trigger rockfalls, some rockfalls are more likely to happen in the hottest part of the day, during the hottest part of the year.

Villagers in Kerauja, Nepal standing below a large rock slide
July 28, 2015

MENLO PARK, Calif. — A new report from the U.S. Geological Survey provides critical landslide-hazard expertise to Nepalese agencies and villages affected by the April 25, magnitude 7.8 earthquake that shook much of central Nepal.

USGS logo
October 7, 2014

Basins in the Sandia and Manzano Mountains at risk for a rainfall-generated debris-flow following a wildfire are identified by a new method for estimating post-fire erosion hazards before a wildfire actually burns, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study.