Mud Slides

Do you know how mudslides and landslides occur? Well if you don’t, I will let you know. Mudslides start with a lot of rainfall. It’s mainly when there is a torrential downpour. You see, the water needs to go somewhere, so it begins with a lot of water runoff. Unfortunately, the ground soaks up a lot of water at a high rate, which means the water is filling in all the little cracks of sediment. This becomes dangerous because the water begins to hold the weight of the sediment. When this occurs on a slope, the ground water causes a massive amount of erosion, which depending on the size and steepness of the slope, the mudslide can pick up a lot of speed.
The force of a mudslide is unstoppable. It carries trees, houses, water, sediments and all debris. When you hear of flash flooding, many times small mudslides occur on banks, but when this happens to a large mountain, more danger and damage is involved. Los Angeles is known for mudslides. They can look like avalanches or just slow moving ground capable of killing everything in its path.
Landslides can be more complicated. Yes a mudslide is like a landslide, but landslides can occur when it’s not raining. Many times, underground water runoff causes underground weak points in the ground. For a landslide to occur, it needs to be on a slope. They can happen really fast, or over a few days. When the slope doesn’t have enough support, the ground gives way to gravity. Earthquakes are another source of starting landslides. Sometimes the ground just needs vibrations for it to drastically move. You may recognize this when you are driving on roads that have a steep slope next to them. Rockslides occur on the side of the roads all the time. In mountainous terrain, it is common for roads to be shut down as crews clean up the debris that is left over.
A few features that can be noticed before a landslide are new cracks in the ground, small springs of water, soil moving away from foundations and leaning poles. There are a lot of hints to a landslide, we just have to look out for any changes. In North Carolina, these are mainly found on the western portion of the state. In Charlotte, we are lucky we don’t have any potential landslide areas.

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This entry was posted in Soil and Sustainability, Soil and Water Dynamics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Mud Slides

  1. ncreidler says:

    I never knew there was a difference between a landslide and a mudslide. Im not sure which on is more common, but I would assume that the mudslides would be more common. I hear about mudslides occurring all the time in places like California and other places with a higher elevation. I am curious as to how many people they hurt each year, because the pictures i have seen of aftermaths have all looked devastating. Im glad that i dont live anywhere near a potential landslide or mudslide area.

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