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.

Distribution and number of reported fatalities associated with over 11,000 rainfall-triggered landslides from the NASA Global Landslide Catalog

Distribution and number of reported fatalities associated with over 11,000 rainfall-triggered landslides from the NASA Global Landslide Catalog, which is available from 2007 to present. White dots represent incidents with zero reported fatalities. Dots in the color scale from pink to red represent incidents with fatalities in the range of 1-5000. This data is accessible at: https://landslides.nasa.gov/viewer

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...
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 mudflow...
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...
April 3, 2017
Deadly Flooding Rains Near Mocoa, Colombia Measured By GPM IMERG
Click here to view animated GIF Late Friday night and Saturday morning flash flooding and mudslides killed over 250 people in Mocoa, Colombia. Extremely intense storms added heavy rain to water logged terrain around Mocoa. Water from this heavy rainfall converged into a river that runs close to Mocoa causing it to overflow it's banks with...
April 1, 2017
Landslide susceptibility and fatalities map from the NASA Global Landslide Catalog.
Torrential rains on the night of Friday March 31st 2017 caused three rivers surrounding the southern Colombian city of Mocoa to overflow -- sending a torrent of mud and debris surging through the city. At least 254 people were killed.  The above image shows the Global Landslide Susceptibility map for the affected region, overlaid with the estimated total fatalities due to landslides from 2007-2016 on the left.  This data was...
April 29, 2015
SPoRT Satellite Imagery of Post Earthquake in Nepal Districts
Image shows a decrease in emitted light over Nepal in areas affected by the earthquake on April 25 as detected by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, VIIRS, “Day-Night Band” sensor aboard the NASA/NOAA Suomi National Polar-Orbiting Partnership satellite, derived from a comparison of pre-earthquake (22 April 2015) and post-earthquake (26 April 2015) imagery.  Input satellite data were obtained in collaboration with the NASA Suomi NPP Science Investigator-Led...
May 1, 2015
NASA Aids Response to Nepal Quake
NASA and its partners are gathering the best available science and information on the April 25, 2015, magnitude 7.8 earthquake in Nepal, referred to as the Gorkha earthquake, to assist in relief and humanitarian operations. Organizations using these NASA data products and analyses include the U.S. Geological Survey, United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, World Bank, American Red Cross, and the United Nations Children's Fund. NASA and its collaborators are pulling optical and radar satellite data from international and domestic...
May 11, 2015
The perspective image (Figure 1) shows the DPM overlaid on the terrain with the locations of landslides identified by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) preliminary damage assessment, using before and after optical imagery (May 4 damage ass
Figure 1 Figure 2 NASA data and expertise are providing valuable information for the ongoing response to the April 25, 2015, magnitude 7.8 Gorkha earthquake in Nepal. The quake has caused a significant humanitarian crisis and has killed more than 8,000 due to widespread building damage and triggered landslides...
May 8, 2015
Hazardous Landslide-dammed Lake, Pisang, Annapurna Region, Nepal
The April 25, 2015 magnitude 7.8 Gorkha earthquake in Nepal produced a landslide dam on the Marshyangdi River, 1.1 miles (1,800 meters) upstream from the village of Lower Pisang. The dam has impounded the river, produced a landslide-dammed lake extending approximately 1,722 feet (525 meters) up the river, and satellite imagery shows that the lake area is expanding with time. Landslide dams can be inherently unstable and may fail suddenly, leading...