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 starting a new Landslide Pilot that will consider landslide detection, mapping, and monitoring to support situational awareness and response to landslide disasters in several study areas (link will be up later this fall). There are also several US-based initiatives to monitor landslide activity for key active areas (http://landslides.usgs.gov/monitoring/). There is also a NASA-developed Global Landslide Catalog (GLC) that has information on rainfall-triggered landslides compiled from media reports, disaster databases, etc. from 2007-present (current placeholder URL: http://ojo-streamer.herokuapp.com/). 

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 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...
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 generated as part of NASA's...
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,...
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...

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