Usually when we here about natural disasters they are caused by tornados, hurricanes, and even earthquakes. Often overlooked though are landslides, and they can occur in all 50 states. Landslides are most prominent in “the intermountain west, and the mountainous and hilly regions of the Eastern United States(Landslide Hazard Information).” Although there are not many causualties only 25 to 50 each year, the property damage throughout the United States is about $3.5 billion a year. On a larger scale landslides cause thousands of deaths annually. Another problem caused by landslides is flooding. Often debris from the slides will block the channels and streams causing build up.
Landslides are movement downward by materials such as rock and soil. The mass increases speed as it builds momentum rolling and falling down the terrain. Most landslides occur in areas with mountains, but not all. At lower land landslides can happen “as cut-andfill failures (roadway and building excavations), river bluff failures, lateral spreading landslides, collapse of mine-waste piles (especially coal), and a wide variety of slope failures associated with quarries and open-pit mines(Landslide Hazard Information).”
Lanslides have five different types of flows including debris flow, debris avalanche, earth flow, mud flow, and creep flow. Debris flow is caused by water loosening the soil and rocks creating movement down the land. A debris avalanche is a much more hostile version of debris flow. It moves at a extremely rapid pace. Earthflow takes the shape of an hour glass and can begin to move without moisture. This type of landslide usually occurs with clay material. Mudflow also referred to as mudslides occurs when material is wet enough to flow fast. Creep flow is exactly what it sounds like a extremely slow flow of material and is caused by land stress.
Many lands prone to earthquakes are also prone to landslides. The shaking of the ground often causes material to come free and also brings water to the surface causing material to loosen. Areas with volcanoes also have great risk of landslides. If snow is on the ground during even a small eruption it could melt the snow and cause a flow of debris. These types of landslides are called lahars. Mt. St. Helen had a lahars in 1980 leading to the largest landslide ever recorded.
Landslides can not be completley avoided, but people can help their chances in escaping one. Of course the way is to become educated on your surrounding enviornment. Also local government can come up with regulations and policies on land operations to protect their citizens. People can also hire a geologist to inspect their land to assure them it is ok to live there. A simple way to help prevent exposure to landslides is not building a structure on a sslope or hill.