Chapter

Landslides: Human Health Effects

In book: Encyclopedia of Human Health, Publisher: Elsevier, Editors: Nriagu JO

ABSTRACT Note - this title is misleading, and was not chosen by us. It is primarily an overview of landslides meant for a human health encyclopedia. It is not a treatment of secondary effects such as airborne or waterborne diseases, nor was it meant to be. The title however suggests this.

Marten Geertsema
Lynn Highland

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    ABSTRACT: At least thirty-eight, large, catastrophic landslides, each either larger than 0.5 M m3 or longer than 1 km, have occurred in northern British Columbia in the last three decades. The landslides include low-gradient flowslides in cohesive sediments, long-runout rock slides (rock avalanches), and complex rock slide-flows. The flowslides have occurred in a variety of sediments, including glaciolacustrine silt, clay-rich till, and clay-rich colluvium. The rock failures have happened in weak shale overlain by sandstone and volcanic rocks. The frequency of large landslides in northern British Columbia appears to be increasing, suggesting a link to climate change.
    Engineering Geology. 01/2006;
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    ABSTRACT: Landslides have long been overlooked or underestimated as important natural disturbance agents. In particular the ecological role of landslides in maintaining biological diversity has been largely ignored. Here we provide a western Canadian (British Columbian) perspective on the influences of landslides on biophysical diversity, which is related in several ways to biological diversity. We recognize several types of biophysical/ecological diversity: site diversity, soil diversity, and the derivative habitat or ecosystem (including aquatic ecosystems) diversity. There are also a variety of landslide types, depending on materials and on the rate and style of movement. We discuss the roles of different landslide types on various aspects of terrestrial diversity. Landslides are simultaneously depositional and erosional processes that influence sites by redistributing materials and changing surface expression — usually creating a complex microtopography that can include very dry ridges and hummocks, and sometimes depressions with standing water. Landslide impacts to site also influence soil and soil development. Portions of landslides with exposed parent material are set back to the initial stages of soil development and ecological succession. Landslides can also change soil density, structure, porosity, surface texture, chemistry and microclimate. By changing site and soil, landslides also influence habitat. Landslides influence habitat diversity by engendering a mosaic of seral stages (often both primary and secondary), and in overwhelmingly forested landscapes often create nodes or hotspots of non-forested habitat and biota. In some areas, like the boreal forest, there is an important interplay between landslides and fire, while on the coast of British Columbia debris and snow avalanches can be the dominant disturbance agent. Low-gradient and deep-seated landslides are often opportunistically colonized by beaver and other water and shrub-loving fauna. Sag ponds and impounded streams provide aquatic habitat — often with standing dead trees. Landslide rubble and scarps provide denning/nesting habitat, escape terrain, and cliff habitat for vertebrates.
    Geomorphology 09/2007; · 2.58 Impact Factor

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