Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Engineers shine light on deadly landslide
by Staff Writers
Champaign IL (SPX) Apr 27, 2017

This is an aerial image of the Oso landslide on April 13, 2014. Image courtesy Tim Stark.

Late in the morning of March 22, 2014, a huge chunk of land cut loose and roared down a hillside in the Stillaguamish River Valley just east of Oso, Washington, about 60 miles northeast of Seattle. In a matter of minutes, 43 people lost their lives as a wall of mud, sand, clay, water and trees cascaded down the hillside into the Steelhead Haven neighborhood, a relatively new housing tract.

This was the deadliest landslide on record in the continental United States. A new report details the factors leading to the disaster, the hazards that accompany landslides and steps that can be taken to mitigate landslide consequences and risk in the Pacific Northwest, with the aim of preventing future tragedies.

The area has seen its share of landslides, but this one was different. It traveled much farther across the valley than any other recent slides for the site.

"Every 30 to 40 years, the area would have a small slide that would come down and block the river," University of Illinois civil and environmental engineering professor Tim Starkk said. "But the 2014 slide was like a huge squeegee pushed the prior slide debris across the valley."

Stark and his team were among the first scientists on the scene after the disaster, and it was immediately apparent to them that something different had occurred here.

"Most of the slides in this area originate from about halfway up the slope, but this flow contained sediments and vegetation from the top of the slope," Stark said, "The higher up the slope the landslide starts, the more potential energy it will have."

In their report in the Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Stark and his team found that height or potential energy was the primary element responsible for the destructive force of this landslide, but noted that other observable factors were at play, as well. These include the shape of the upper slope, sediment type, precipitation and erosion.

"LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) imaging is a great tool for looking at these geographic factors because it gives us a view of the land from above without all of the vegetation in the way," Stark said. "It allows us to quickly spot other potential high-elevation slide hazards."

In April 2015, the state increased funding for the use of LIDAR by the Washington Department of Natural Resources to spot potential landslide hazards. Researchers hope that particular attention will be paid to these high-elevation slide areas.

"Almost all of the valleys in the area have rivers cutting into glacial plateaus with potential for other high-elevation slides," Stark said.

Another factor contributing to landslide potential is precipitation. The researchers reviewed precipitation data and found that the Oso area experienced record-breaking rainfall in the weeks leading up to the slide. Wet sediments are not as strong as dry ones, Stark said, and accounting for this detail will be an integral part of the next phase of this research, which was awarded a National Science Foundation grant.

"We are working on a new model that will help us account for soil moisture and other factors like the impact of timber harvesting on rainwater infiltration and the location of communities," Stark said. "That will help us better assess hazards and, importantly, determine the level of risk to current and future population areas."

"Case study: Oso, Washington, landslide of March 22, 2014 - material properties and failure mechanism"

The Nepal quake survivors who can never go home
Rasuwa, Nepal (AFP) April 25, 2017
Nepal marked the second anniversary of a devastating quake on Tuesday with rebuilding finally under way, but thousands of survivors still living in flimsy shelters have been told they can never return home. Experts say the 2015 quake, which killed nearly 9,000 people, has heightened the risk of natural disasters in parts of the Himalayan country already prone to landslides, particularly duri ... read more

Related Links
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
A world of storm and tempest
When the Earth Quakes

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Engineers shine light on deadly landslide

24 dead as Kyrgyz landslide engulfs village homes

Soul-searching scientists struggle to get message across

Ukraine, Belarus leaders mark Chernobyl anniversary

Penn researchers quantify the changes that lightning inspires in rock

Can virtual reality help us prevent falls in the elderly and others?

MIT engineers manipulate water using only light

NIST method sees through concrete to detect early-stage corrosion

Vinegar offers hope in Barrier Reef starfish battle

Rising carbon dioxide levels, ocean acidity may change crucial marine process

Humans threaten 'fossil' groundwater: study

In Mexico City, water a rare commodity

Warm winds: New insight into what weakens Antarctic ice shelves

New atlas provides highest-resolution imagery of the Polar Regions seafloor

Researchers solve the century-old mystery of Blood Falls

Climate change clues revealed by ice sheet collapse

China-bound illegal donkey hide haul seized in Pakistan

When Nature vents her wrath on grapes

Rivers of blood orange: Juice floods Russian town

A novel form of iron for fortification of foods

6.8-magnitude quake strikes the Philippines: USGS

New model could help predict major earthquakes

Hard rocks from Himalaya raise flood risk for millions

NASA Study Challenges Long-held Tsunami Formation Theory

Congolese plantation sprouts art centre to help the poor

US Defense Secretary Mattis visits strategic Djibouti

Top conservationist wounded in Kenya gun attack

Morocco, US stage joint military exercise

Prehistoric human DNA is found in caves without bones

New paper claims humans were in California 130,000 years ago

Tibetan people have multiple adaptations for life at high altitudes

Indonesian hobbit evolved from African ancestor

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement