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Introduction to landslides and mudflows


Like the other natural disasters, landslides and mudslides are one of the most powerful and destructive natural and environmental events. They come almost when no one expects them and they can occur and destroy things in a very short space of time.

People often use landslides and mudslides to mean one thing. They are also known as landslips, slumps or slope failure.There are many types of landslides such as Block Slide, Rockfall, art Flow, Creep and so on, and we shall look at them on the next page.

What is a Landslide and a Mudslide?

In simple terms, a landslide is a massive movement of rock, soil, debris or earth material downwards along a hill or slope due to the force of gravity. The movement may be flowing, spreading, falling, toppling, sliding and so on. This can be dry debris movement or water saturated (muddy) earth material.

A mudslide (also know as mudflows or mudslides) on the other hand, is a fast-moving landslide usually along a channel or canal.

When they occur, they may cover a very small area — uphill to downhill or may travel over several miles from they source. Depending on the volume and speed, it can wipe out anything in its path such as houses, cars, trees and electricity poles.

Diagram of a rockfall landslide

Landslides occur everywhere, although some places are more prone to it than others.

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