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Mass Movements

Mass movements


Mass movement, Landslides and Avalanches

Mass movement denotes the collective term for all gravitational or downslope movement of weathered rock debris. Gravity plays the sole important role in transporting materials mostly down the slop and other transporting medium such as water, wind, waves; glaciers are not involved in the process but they may aggravate or trigger the condition of mass wasting by adding additional weight or by generating seepage pressure or lubrication.  Weakening internal cohesionis the most common cause of mass movements. Landslides denote the perceptible downslope movement of rock, debris or earth. Landslides are caused by a large volume and combination od rock, debris, soil and water, moving downslope under the influence of gravity and water. Avalanches refer to the fall or very rapid down slope movement of snow as a result of structural weakness (Such as reduction of stability by the existence of solid bad rock that acts as a slide planebelow the weak material) or gravity. Avalanches tend to recur in the same places. Methods of stabilizing hill slopes may help to reduce the impact and vulnerability of the avalanche related hazards. Ski resorts are particularly prone to avalanches.


Movement categoryTypes of materialsSpeed of onset
Bed rockCoarseFineHigh (slope angle or gradient plays the major role)

Low (water plays an important role)
FallRock fallDebris fallEarth fall
ToppleRock toppleDebris toppleEarth topple
SlideRock slideDebris slideEarth slide
SpreadRock spreadDebris spreadEarth spread
FlowRock flowDebris flowEarth flow
CreepRock creepTalus creepSoil creep/Terracettes

Catastrophic landslides


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