Ben Mirus

My research focuses on landslide hydrology and thresholds for landslide warning systems. My background is in hillslope hydrology and numerical modeling of surface and near-surface hydrological processes, which I apply to improve quantitative characterization of landslide initiation potential. I manage several real-time landslide monitoring sites and the national landslide inventory database. 



   2015-present      Research Geologist, Landslides Hazards Program, USGS, Golden, CO

   2013-2014            Assistant Professor, Department of Geological Sciences, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

   2010-2013            Hydrologist, Unsaturated Zone Flow Project, USGS, Menlo Park, CA

   2005-2009            Physical Scientist, Unsaturated Zone Flow Project, USGS, Menlo Park, CA



   2009                     Ph.D. in Hydrogeology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA

   2001                     B.A. in Geology, Pomona College, Claremont, CA 




Mirus, B.B., Jones, E.S., Baum, R.L., Godt, J.W., Slaughter, S., Crawford, M.M., Lancaster, J., Stanley, T., Kirschbaum, D.B., Burns, W.J., Schmitt, R.G., Lindsey, K.O., McCoy, K.M., 2020, Landslides across the United States: Occurrence, Susceptibility, and Data Limitations: Landslides,

Temme, A., Guzzetti, F., Samia, J., Mirus, B.B., 2020, The future of landslides’ past – a framework for assessing consecutive landsliding systems: Landslides, 

Orland, E., Roering, J.J., Thomas, M.A., Mirus, B.B., 2020, Deep Learning as a tool to forecast hydrologic response for landslide-prone hillslopes: Geophysical Research Letters,

Thomas, M.A., Mirus, B.B., and Smith, J.B., 2020, Hillslopes in humid-tropical climates aren’t always wet: implications for hydrologic response and landslide initiation in Puerto Rico: Hydrological Processes,

Smith, J.B., Thomas, M.A., Ashland, F.X., Michel, A., Mirus, B.B., 2020, Hillslope hydrologic monitoring data following Hurricane Maria in 2017, Puerto Rico, July 2018 to June 2020: U.S. Geological Survey Data Release,  

Kampf, S.K., Mirus, B.B., 2020, Subsurface and surface flow leading to channel initiation, Chapter 9.3 in: Shroder, J (Editor): Treatise on Geomorphology, vol. 9, 2nd edition, San Diego: Academic Press, 47 p., 

Hsu, L., Andrews, C.M., Bradford, J.B., Buscombe, D.D., Chase, K.J., Daniel, W.M., Jones, J.M., Fuller, P., Mirus, B.B., Neilson, M.E., Vraga, H.W., Walker, J.J., Walworth, D.H., Warrick, J., Weltzin, J., Wieferich, D.J., Wood, N.J., 2020, Community for Data Integration 2018 Funded Project Report: U.S. Geological Survey – Open File Report 2020-1062,

Percy, M.S., Riveros-Iregui, D., Mirus, B.B., Benninger, L.K., 2020, Spatial variability of soil moisture across four hillslopes on a tropical ocean island: Journal of Hydrology – Regional Studies,​1016/​j.​ejrh.​2020.​100692.

Smith, J.B., Delius, I., Mirus, B.B., Baum, R.L., 2020, Time-lapse photography of an active coastal-bluff landslide, Mukilteo, Washington, August 2015 - May 2016: U.S. Geological Survey Data Release,


Jones, E., Mirus, B.B., Schmitt, R., Baum, R.L., Burns, W.J., Crawford, M. Godt, J.W., M., Kirschbaum, D., Lancaster, J., Lindsey, K.O., McCoy, K.E., Slaughter, S., Stanley, T., 2019, Map of Landslide Inventories Across the United States: U.S. Geological Survey Data Release, doi:10.5066/P9E2A37P, ArcGIS Online interactive map: doi:10.5066/P95WJCJL. 

Fusco, F., De Vita, P., Baum, R.L., Mirus, B.B., Allocca, V., Tufano, R., Calcaterra, D., 2019, Physically based estimation of rainfall thresholds triggering shallow landslides in volcanic slopes of southern Italy: Water, 11, 1915, 

Smith, J.B., Kean, J.W., Mirus, B.B., Staley, D.M, Rengers, F.K., McGuire, L.A., 2019, Hillslope hydrologic monitoring data following the 2009 Station Fire, Los Angeles County, California, November 2015 to June 2017: U.S. Geological Survey – Data Release, 

Thomas, M.A., Collins, B.D., Mirus, B.B., 2019, Assessing the feasibility of satellite-based thresholds for hydrologically driven landsliding, Water Resources Research,

Fusco, F., De Vita, P., Baum, R.L., Mirus, B.B., Allocca, V., Tufano, R., and Calcaterra, D., 2019, Physically based estimation of rainfall thresholds triggering shallow landslides in volcanic slopes of southern Italy, Water, 11, 1915; doi:10.3390/w11091915

Jones, E., Mirus, B.B., Schmitt, R., Baum, R.L., Burns, W.J., Crawford, M. Godt, J.W., M., Kirschbaum, D., Lancaster, J., Lindsey, K.O., McCoy, K.E., Slaughter, S., and Stanley, T., 2019, Map of Landslide Inventories Across the United States: U.S. Geological Survey Data Release, doi:10.5066/P9E2A37P

Mirus, B.B., Staley, D.M., Kean, J.W., Smith, J.B., Wooten, R., Ebel, B.A., and McGuire, L.A., 2019, Towards a Conceptual Framework for Assessing Disturbance Impacts and Landslide Hydrology in Kean, J.W., Coe, J.A., Santi, O.M., and Guillen, B.K. (Editors) Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Debris-Flow Hazards Mitigation, Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists (AEG), Special Publication 28, p. 524-531, ISBN: 978-0-578-51082-8

Hinds, E., Lu, N., Mirus, B.B., and Wayllace A., 2019, A case study of effects of atmospheric variability on the spatial-temporal evolution of stability of an interstate highway embankment, Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, 145(9): 0501908, doi:10.1061/(ASCE)GT.1943-5606.0002127.


Trost, J.J., Perkins, K.S., W. Henson, W., Mirus, B.B., Nimmo, J.R. and Muñoz-Carpena, R., 2018, UZIG research: Measurement and characterization of unsaturated zone processes under wide-ranging climates and changing conditions: Vadose Zone Journal, 17:180198, doi:10.2136/vzj2018.11.0198.Mirus, B.B., Morphew, M.D., and Smith, J.B., 2018, Developing Hydro-Meteorological Thresholds for Shallow Landslide Initiation and Early Warning: Water, 10(9), 1274, doi:10.3390/w10091274

Thomas, M.A., Mirus, B.B., and Collins, B.D., 2018, A physics-based approach to identify thresholds for rainfall-induced shallow landsliding: Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2018GL079662.

Mirus, B.B., Becker, R., Baum, R.L., and Smith, J.B., 2018, Integrating real-time subsurface hydrologic monitoring with empirical rainfall thresholds to improve landslide early warning: Landslides, 15:1909, doi:10.1007/s10346-018-0995-z.

McGuire, L.A., Rengers, F.K., Kean, J.W., Staley, D.M., and Mirus, B.B., 2018, Incorporating spatially heterogeneous infiltration capacity into hydrologic models with applications for simulating post-wildfire debris flow initiation: Hydrological Processes, doi:10.1002/hyp.11458.

Thomas, M., BB Mirus, B Collins, N Lu, J Godt. 2018. Variability in soil-water retention properties and implications for physics-based simulation of landslide early warning criteria, Landslides, doi:10.1007/s10346-018-0950-z. [Link]


Mirus, BB, BA Ebel, C Mohr, N Zegre. 2017. Disturbance Hydrology: Preparing for an Increasingly Disturbed Future, Water Resources Research, WRCR22964,  doi:10.1002/2017WR021084. [Link]

Mirus, BB, JB Smith, RL Baum. 2017. Hydrologic Impacts of Landslide Disturbances: Implications for Remobilization and Hazard Persistence, Water Resources Research, WRCR22885, doi:10.1002/2017WR020842. [Link]

Smith, JB, RL Baum, BB Mirus, A Michel, B Stark. 2017. Results of Hydrologic Monitoring on Landslide Prone Coastal Bluffs near Mukilteo, Washington. U.S. Geological Survey – Open-File Report 2017–1095, 47 p.,

Mirus, BB, JB Smith, RL Baum. 2017. Shallow Landslide Assessment of Coastal Bluffs along Puget Sound using a Physics-Based Hydro-Mechanical Model, in De Graff, J.V., and Shakur, A., eds. Landslides: Putting Experience, Knowledge and Emerging Technologies into Practice, Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists (AEG), Special Publication 27, ISBN: 978-0-9897253-7-8, p. 442-454. 

Scheevel, C, RL Baum, BB Mirus, JB Smith. 2017. Precipitation Thresholds for Landslide Occurrence near Mukilteo and Everett, Washington. U.S. Geological Survey – Open File Report 2017–1039, 51 p., [Link]

Chen, P, BB Mirus. N Lu, JW Godt, 2017. Effect of hydraulic hysteresis on the stability of infinite slopes under steady infiltration. Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)GT.1943-5606.0001724. [Link]


Nimmo, JR, K Creasey, K Perkins, BB Mirus. 2016. Preferential flow, diffuse flow, and perching in an interbedded fractured-rock unsaturated zone. Hydrogeology Journal, DOI: 10.1007/s10040-016-1496-6. [Link]

McGuire, LA, FK Rengers, JW Kean, JA Coe, BB Mirus, RL Baum, JW Godt, 2016, Elucidating the role of vegetation in the initiation of rainfall-induced shallow landslides: Insights from an extreme rainfall event in the Colorado Front Range. Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1002/2016GL070741. [Link]

Mirus, B.B., Smith, J.B., Stark, Benjamin, Lewis, York, Michel, Abigail, and Baum, R.L., 2016, Assessing landslide potential on coastal bluffs near Mukilteo, Washington—Geologic site characterization for hydrologic monitoring: U.S. Geological Survey Open - File Report 2016–1082, 28 p., DOI:10.3133/ofr20161082. [Link]

Mirus, BB, J Smith, J Godt, R Baum, J Coe. 2016. Simulated Effect of Topography and Soil Properties on Hydrologic Response and Landslide Potential in the Oregon Coast Range, USA, in Aversa, S., Cascini, L., Picarelli, L., and Claudio, S., eds., Landslides and Engineered Slopes: Experience, Theory and Practice, © 2016 Associazione Geotecnica Italiana, Rome, Italy, ISBN 978-1-138-02988-0, p. 1431-1439. [Download File]

Tashie, A, BB Mirus, T Pavelsky. 2016. Identifying long term empirical relationships between storm characteristics and episodic groundwater recharge. Water Resources Research, DOI:10.1002/2015WR017876. [Link]

Fatichi, S., ER Vivoni, F Ogden, VY Ivanov, BB Mirus, D Gochis, CW Downer, M Camporese, J Davison, BA Ebel, N Jones, J Kim, G Mascaro, R Niswonger, P Restrepo, R Rigon, S Shen, M Sulis, D Tarboton. 2016. An overview of current applications, challenges, and future trends in distributed process-based models in hydrology. Journal of Hydrology, DOI:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2016.03.026. [Link]

Mirus, BB, KJ Halford, DS Sweetkind, JM Fenelon. 2016. Testing the suitability of geologic frameworks for extrapolating hydraulic properties across regional scales. Hydrogeology Journal, DOI:10.1007/s10040-016-1375-1. [Link]

Percy, M, S Schmidtt, D Riveros-Iregui, BB Mirus. 2016. Investigating landscape hydrology across sharp hydroclimatologic, geologic, and anthropogenic gradients in the Galapagos Archipelago. WIREs Water, DOI:10.1002/wat2.1145. [Link]

2015 and older

Mirus, BB. 2015. Evaluating the importance of characterizing soil structure and horizons in parameterizing a hydrologic process model. Hydrological Processes, DOI: 10.1002/hyp.10592. [Link]

Perkins, K, BB Mirus, B Johnston. 2014. Measurement of Unsaturated Hydraulic Properties and Evaluation of Property-Transfer Models of Deep Sediments, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho: U.S. Geological Survey – Scientific Investigations Report, 2014-5406, . p26. [Link]

Ebel BA, BB Mirus. 2014. Disturbance hydrology: challenges and opportunities, Hydrological Processes, 28; pages 5140–5148, DOI:10.1002/hyp.10256 [Link]

Kampf, SK, BB Mirus. 2013. Subsurface and surface flow leading to channel initiation, in J Shroder Jr., E Wohl (eds.), Treatise in Geomorphology, Elsevier.

Mirus, BB, JR Nimmo. 2013. Balancing practicality and hydrologic realism: a parsimonious approach for simulating rapid groundwater recharge via unsaturated-zone preferential flow, Water Resources Research, DOI:10.1002/WRCR.20141. [Download File]

Mirus, BB, K Loague. 2013. How Runoff Begins (and Ends): Characterizing hydrologic response at the catchment scale, Water Resources Research, DOI/10.1002/wrcr.20218. [Download File]

Halford, K, CA Garcia, J Fenelon, and BB Mirus. 2012. Advanced methods for modeling water-levels and estimating drawdowns with SeriesSEE, an Excel add-In, U.S. Geological Survey - Techniques and Methods, 4–F4, 28 p. [Link]

Mirus, BB, K Perkins, 2012. Practical estimates of field-saturated hydraulic conductivity of bedrock outcrops using a modified bottomless bucket method, Water Resources Research DOI:10.1029/2012WR012053. [Download File]

Mirus, BB, K Perkins, JR Nimmo. 2011. Assessing Controls on Perched Saturated Zones beneath the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center, Idaho. U.S. Geological Survey – Scientific Investigations Report 2011-5222 (DOE/ID-22216), p. 20. [Link]

Mirus, BB, K Loague, N Cristea, S Burges, S Kampf. 2011. A synthetic hydrologic-response dataset. Hydrological Processes, DOI:10.1002/hyp.8185. [Download File]

Mirus, BB, BA Ebel, CS Heppner, K Loague. 2011. Assessing the detail needed to capture rainfall-runoff dynamics with physics-based hydrologic-response simulation. Water Resources Research 47, W00H10, DOI.1029/2010WR009906. [Download File]

BeVille, SH, BB Mirus, BA Ebel, GG Mader, and K Loague. 2010. Using simulated hydrologic response to revisit the 1973 Lerida Court landslide. Environmental Earth Sciences. DOI:10.1007/s12665-010-0448-z. [Download File]

Ebel, BA, BB Mirus, CS Heppner, JE VanderKwaak, K Loague. 2009. First-order exchange coefficient coupling for simulating surface water-groundwater interactions: Parameter sensitivity and consistency with a physics-based approach. Hydrological Processes 23, 1949-1959. DOI:10.1002/hyp.7279. [Download File]

Mirus, BB, K Loague, JE VanderKwaak, SK Kampf, and SJ Burges. 2009. A hypothetical reality of Tarrawarra-like hydrologic response. Hydrological Processes 23, 1093-1103. DOI:10.1002/hyp.7241. [Download File]

Mirus, BB, K Perkins, JR Nimmo, and K Singha. 2009. Hydrologic characterization of desert soils with varying degrees of pedogenesis: II. Inverse modeling for effective properties. Vadose Zone Journal 8(2), 496-509. DOI:10.2136/vzj.2008.0051. [Download File]

Mirus, BB, BA Ebel, K Loague, and BC Wemple. 2007. Simulated effect of a forest road on near-surface hydrologic response: Redux. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 32, 126-142. DOI:1002/esp.1387. [Download File]

Loague, K, CS Heppner, BB Mirus, BA Ebel, Q Ran, AE Carr, SH BeVille, and JE VanderKwaak. 2006. Physics-based hydrologic-response simulation: Foundation for hydroecology and hydrogeomorphology. Hydrological Processes 20, 1231-1237. DOI:2001/hyp.6179. [Download File]

Mirus, BB, K Moffett, J Fosdick, G Hughes, S Carter (editors). 2005. Stanford Alpine Project: Field Guide to Guatemalan Geology. Branner Earth Sciences Library, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, pp. 60. [Link]