Cochise College                Student Papers in Geology    
Geology Home Page                          physical geology  historical geology  planetary  gems
Roger Weller, geology instructor

Tracy Cottrell
Physical Geology
Fall 2005

Mass Wasting, Also Known As…



Landslides cost billions of dollars and a large number of deaths every year.  Many homes are built in these high-risk areas and is unknown to the homeowner.  There are many telltale signs of a potential landslide area.  Most people are unaware of the severity of landslides.  They can take the lives of humans and animals.  A lot of work is currently going on to study the causes of landslides and possible prevention of them.  


What are they? 

Landslides occur when the earth falls off of a slope.  They can be a really slow long process or can take a matter of seconds to cause their damage.  Landslides will take everything in their way... anything from people to homes.  Landslides can contain rocks, trees, dirt, mud or any combination.  Landslides can happen anywhere and are caused by many different factors.


Nature and humans can cause landslides.  They can be triggered from anything from heavy rain to a car door shutting.  Nature starts the landslides by heavy rain, wind, earthquakes, streams and by falling trees.  Humans can cause landslides by walking to close to the edge of a slope. 


Construction is one of the greatest causes of landslides.  With so many people in the US, the need for homes is rapidly increasing.  Good land to build homes on is getting scarce and people are building anywhere they can.  California has the greatest amount of high-risk homes.  There is such a need for the land that builders are resorting to building on mountainsides.  When part of a mountain or hill is dug away it creates a steeper slope.  The increased slope now has more gravitational force pulling it.  This causes landslides and can be triggered by a butterfly landing on the ground.  After they cut the slope there is tons of unneeded dirt.  They then put this dirt on top of the mountain because of convenience.  

Landslide facts


How to identify high-risk areas...

What to do when landslide hits...

My landslide hunt...