Landslides

Overview

Landslides are one of the most pervasive hazards in the world, causing thousands of fatalities and billions of dollars in damages each year. Intense or prolonged rainfall is the most frequent landslide trigger, but seismicity, river undercutting, freeze-thaw processes, and human activity can also cause extensive and devastating landslides. While landslides are often small in area, with significant triggering events, they can be widely distributed across an area and result in runout or mobilization of debris that can extend for miles. Understanding where and when landslides have occurred in the past and where they may occur in the future is extremely challenging because of the lack of ground-based sensors at the landslide site to provide both triggering information (e.g. rainfall intensity and duration), and the timing and extent of the mass movement events. Remote sensing information provides critical insight to identify landslide activity, characterize the triggering patterns of these events spatially and temporally, assess the surface conditions for potential activity, and support the full cycle of disaster risk assessment.

There are several ongoing activities to address landslide hazard assessment using remote sensing data. The Committee on Earth Observing Systems (CEOS) Disaster Working Group (http://ceos.org/ourwork/workinggroups/disasters/) is leading a Landslide Pilot that aims to demonstrate the effective exploitation of satellite EO across the full cycle of landslide disaster risk management, including preparedness, response, and recovery at global, regional, and local scales, with a distinct multi-hazard focus on cascading impacts and risks. There are also several US-based initiatives to monitor landslide activity for key active areas (http://landslides.usgs.gov/monitoring/). NASA has also been developing a global landslide model (Landslide Hazard Assessment for Situational Awareness) and a Global Landslide Catalog (GLC) that has information on rainfall-triggered landslides compiled from media reports, disaster databases, etc. from 2007-present. This data is available at: https://landslides.nasa.gov.

Photograph from aerial survey showing the upper parts of the Oso, Washington landslide that occurred in northwest Washington on March 22, 2014. This photo was taken on March 27, 2014.

Photograph from aerial survey showing the upper parts of the Oso, Washington landslide that occurred in northwest Washington on March 22, 2014. This photo was taken on March 27, 2014.

Credit: Jonathan Godt, USGS

The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired the above image of landslide debris from the Oso, Washington landslide and the barrier lake that formed subsequently on March 23, 2014.

The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired the above image of landslide debris from the Oso, Washington landslide and the barrier lake that formed subsequently on March 23, 2014. 

Image Credit: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=83409

Latest Updates

April 18, 2018
GPM IMERG rainfall accumulation from 4/10/18 - 4/16/18.
Video of A Week of Heavy Rainfall Over Hawaiian Islands A low pressure trough moving slowly westward through the northwestern Hawaiian Islands caused destructive flooding and mudslides over the past weekend. The trough disrupted the normal northeast trade winds flow north of Oahu on April 12, 2018. This caused extremely heavy rainfall as the trough deepened and moved very slowly over Kauai during the weekend. The 28.1 inches (713 mm) of rain reported in Hanalei within a 24 hour period was close to a record for the small town on Kauai's northern coast. Almost 32.4 inches (822 mm) of rain was...
March 7, 2018
Optical images acquired by Planet Labs’ dove satellite constellation
To map the spatial extent of the Montecito mudflows that occurred on 9th January 2018, east of Santa Barbara we used optical images acquired by Planet Labs’ dove satellite constellation (Planet Team, 2018). We used a total of eight images, three from before (December 28, 29, 30) and five after (January 10, 11, 12, 13, 18) the...
February 9, 2018
UAVSAR image of Montecito debris flows.
Extreme winter rains in January 2018 following the Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties caused severe debris flows, destroying 73 homes and damaging over 160 structures in the town on Montecito, just east of Santa Barbara. NASA UAVSAR airborne radar platform detected changes caused by the debris flows between two images acquired on November 2, 2017 and February 5, 2018. An enhanced image pair (top left) show disturbed areas in orange. The two image pairs can’t be matched and decorrelate in areas of severe surface disruption from the fire scar and debris flows (top right). In the...
January 9, 2018
Landslide susceptability map from 1/9/18.
Winter rains falling on recently burned ground triggered deadly mudslides near Santa Barbara, California on the 9th of January. The potential for landslides is shown above. This map was generated by the global Landslide Hazard Assessment for Situational Awareness (LHASA) model, a model that combines GPM precipitation data with a global landslide susceptibility map. LHASA gives a broad overview of...
January 10, 2018
GPM IMERG rainfall accumulation 1/8/18 - 1/10/18
GPM IMERG rainfall accumulation 1/8/18 - 1/10/18 . Winter rains falling on recently burned ground triggered deadly mudslides near Santa Barbara, California on the 9th of January. This rainfall analysis was constructed using NASA's Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) data. Precipitation data acquired from satellites in the GPM Constellation during the period from January 8-10, 2018 were used in this rainfall accumulation map. This analysis shows...

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