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Landslides Facts for Kids


The phenomenon of landslides is a geological one. Landslides are due to a vast array of ground movement, which include deep failure of slopes, shallow debris flows, and rock falls. Landslides can occur in all different types of onshore, coastal, and offshore environments. The main driving force of landslides is often attributed to gravity; however, there can be other factors that contribute to the stability of a slope, which make a once stable condition unstable.

What are the Different Types of Landslides?

Types of landslides, which occur throughout the world, include deep-seated landslides, debris flow, debris avalanche, earth flow, and shallow landslide. Landslides have natural causes and man-made causes. Natural causes of landslides include erosion, groundwater pressure, volcanic eruptions, heavy rain, glacier melting and earthquakes. Man-made causes of landslides include construction, earthwork, blasting, and deforestation.

How To Reduce the Impact of Landslides

There are many ways to reduce the impact of landslides on a community. Local and national governments can create emergency management programs for landslides and offer planning manuals to residents of landslide-prone areas on what to do if there is a risk of a landslide. Community-wide landslide education and training programs can teach individuals not only what to do but what not to do in a landslide. Governments can offer assistance for landslide studies to decrease the probability of risk from natural disasters.

What has Hong Kong Done to Reduce Landslides?

Hong Kong, for example, created a Slope Safety System in the 1970s to reduce the impact of landslides in the area. Since this program was introduced, there has been a 50 percent decrease in casualty rates. Hong Kong’s system focuses on remedial and protective work, a system that provides early warning and an education program to provide a risk reduction comprehensive approach. In Costa Rica after the August 2002 landslide in Orosi de Cartago, the Red Cross created a system of early warning to diminish future events. Twohundred citizens went through professional training in disaster preparedness. Another 30 individuals was given fundamental training in how to operate an emergency radio. Nine months after the Red Cross implemented this program, there was another landslide in the region. However, this time, the community was more prepared and there was not as big an impact.

What has Japan Done to Reduce Landslides?

In 2005, in Japan, 168 government delegations came together for the World Conference on Disaster Reduction. At this conference, the Hyogo Framework for Action was implemented to decrease disaster risks throughout the world. One section focused on minimizing the impact of landslides on communities. This section promoted different reduction ideas, including establishing hazard maps, creating effective systems of monitoring vulnerable areas, and of course, identifying areas that are considered vulnerable to landslides. The Hyogo Framework for Action also proposes urban planning strategies, community preparedness, environmental management, and protective engineering works.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS)

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has also done a lot within the United States and worldwide to help lessen the impact of landslides. The USGS created safety guidelines and landslide recognition information for people living in communities prone to landslides. The USGS recommends that if an individual suspects an oncoming landslide, he or she should contact the local public works department, police and fire departments and leave the area quickly. The USGS also recommends that the government work to develop and enforce building ordinances to regulate construction sites located in regions that are prone to landslides.

The USGS also created the National Landslide Hazards Mitigation Strategy to further lessen the impact of landslides. This USGS strategy bestows the federal government an important role in the attempt to decrease losses due to the hazard of landslides. Partnerships need to be created on the government level as well as broad-based partnerships between the government, private sector, and academia to expand available research on landslides, real-time monitoring, assessment, mapping, landslide forecasting, information management and dissemination, emergency preparedness and mitigation tools.