Landslide is the downslope movement of soil, rock and organic materials under the effects of gravity, which occurs when the gravitational driving forces exceed the frictional resistance of the material resisting on the slope. Landslides could be terrestrial or submarine (Varnes, 1978).

Landslides can be triggered by geological and physical causes such as glacier or snow melts, heavy rains and water pressure, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and overly steep slopes. Landslides can also be triggered by human action, the most common being building on unstable slopes. Submarine landslides, or massive slides and rock falls hitting the sea can also cause tsunamis.

Landslides can reach speeds of over 50 km/h and can bury, crush or carry away people, objects and buildings. Landslides cannot be predicted but warning systems measuring rainfall levels can provide warning to people living in landslide-prone areas.

Instrumental monitoring to detect movement and the rate of movement can be implemented, for example, extensometers, global positioning system (GPS), seismometers, aerial photography, satellite images, LiDaR (Highland and Bobrowsky, 2008) with varying degrees of success. Increasingly, the science of landslide physics is allowing the nature of these hazards to be understood, which is leading to better techniques through which they can be managed and mitigated (HIP).

Risk factors

  • Population growth
  • Rapid urbanization
  • Environmental degradation (deforestation and inappropriate use of lands and slopes)
  • High population density, heavy rainfall and rapid land use changes increase the instability of slopes

Risk reduction measures

  • Early warning systems to observe and alert before landslides happen
  • Hazard maps to identify landslides risk and vulnerabilities
  • Integrate landslide risk assessment into urban planning strategies
  • Building codes and standards for materials that reinforce landslide resilience
  • Improve drainage, building tunnels and trenches to stabilize slopes
  • Protect forest cover and regulate logging
  • Raise awareness of landslide risk
  • Regular drills and community evacuation exercises
  • Establish national, regional, and local evacuation plans

Latest Land Slide additions in the Knowledge Base

This observation points towards land cover changes being a critical factor in landscape dynamics, stressing the human pressure as a discriminant cause/effect term for natural vs. human-induced landslide fatalities.
The GEUS report indicates that dumping of soil at the top of the slope triggered two large earthflows, driving instability across the site.
Eos - AGU
University of Alaska Fairbanks researchers have devised a way to remotely detect large landslides within minutes of occurrence and to quickly determine whether they are close to open water and present a tsunami hazard.
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Medical model of a heart.
The Colombian government has worked on legislative instruments to increase resilience of their health sector. With support from GFDRR, a technical team has been supporting Colombia in using innovative analytics to inform its resilience-building efforts.
Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, the (GFDRR)
World Bank, the
In 2019, the tailings dam at a Brazilian iron ore mine failed. The mudslide caused a catastrophe for people and the environment.
ETH Zurich
Nepalis wait as engineers remove a boulder fallen on the road due to a landslide
A new paper in the journal Environmental Earth Sciences (KC et al. 2023) shows that there has been a huge increase in the number of recorded landslides in Nepal since the Gorkha earthquake in 2015.
Earth Observatory of Singapore - Nanyang Technological University
A series of impact assessments highlight India’s vulnerability to extreme weather events and the risks they pose to human health.
Nature Research
Weeks of heavy monsoon rains flooded farmland and hundreds of villages along the Sutlej River in Pakistan and India in August 2023.
The World Bank helped finance the Climate Resilience Multi-Phase Programmatic Approach Project, the first phase of which aims to improve flood resilience in the Kelani River basin and modernize disaster forecasting, preparedness, and warning systems.
World Bank, the

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