Mass Movement

Sentinel-1 radar coverage from before and after the 1 April 2017 mudslide in Mocoa, Colombia. Triggered by heavy rain, the landslide caused greatest movement (red) on top of a mountain. It then pushed mud down across the city of Mocoa (green) and crossed the nearby river. The Sentinel-1-derived data product (from scans on 20 March and 1 April) has been overlaid onto a Sentinel-1 radar image. Image: Modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2017), processed by I. Parcharidis, Harokopio University of Athens.

Definition

Mass movements can be defined as as any type of downslope movement of earth materials, such as sediment, soil and rock material. Mass movements are processes of erosion, transport and accumulation of material that occur on both gentle and steep slopes mainly owing to gravitational forces (IRDR Glossary).

These movements are generally associated with other disasters such as earthquakes, floods, thunderstorms and heavy rainstorm. They can be also associated with manmade hazards like construction roads, buildings, structures, infrastructure facilities.

 

Facts and figures

Mass movements occur based on several factors and causes differ depending on different regions. Mass movements are affected by the slope gradient, climate, rock type and structure, physical setting and geological and geomorphological outlines (Advances in Geosciences).

Mass-wasting events come in many shapes, sizes and speeds. Typically, the steeper the angle of a slope, the faster will be the down-slope movement of rock and sediment.  Also, water can play a significant role in mass wasting, sometimes acting as the key component to a mass-wasting event, or serving as a lubricant within a mass of sediment and rock, enabling it to travel faster and further than it would otherwise.

 

One type of mass wasting can evolve into another type of mass wasting as the body of sediment/rock moves down a slope. This can make it difficult to classify a single event as being one type of mass wasting or another (Department of Geological Sciences, California State University).

A simple classification of the different types of mass wasting can be:

  • Falls  (rock fall and rock avalanche)        
  • Slides  (rock slide, landslide and slump)      
  • Flows  (rock avalanche, debris flow, earth flow and creep).

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Data Source

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Evento

The University of Alaska Fairbanks has launched a MOOC about Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) remote sensing for disaster monitoring. SAR is a remote sensing technology that can see the ground even during darkness and through rain, clouds, or smoke. Participants of the course will gain an intuitive understanding of the information contained in SAR observations and learn to use a range of analysis techniques to apply SAR data to disaster mapping and management. Specific topics will include:

  • The mathematical and physical principles of SAR remote sensing
  • How to access and visualize SAR data
  • Interpretation of SAR images in the context of disaster monitoring
  • Interferometric SAR (InSAR) concepts
  • Flood mapping and SAR change detection for hazard analysis
  • InSAR-based analysis of volcanoes and landslides

The learned concepts will be put into practice in simulated disaster response exercises, in which participants will... read more

Participants at the virtual expert meeting. Image: UNOOSA.

En décadas recientes muchas comunidades en América Latina y el Caribe han experimentado desastres ocasionados por inundaciones, sequías, deslizamientos, terremotos, erupciones volcánicas y maremotos o tsunamis que han erosionado los logros asociados a procesos de desarrollo. Además, en este año 2020 la pandemia ocasionada por el virus COVID-19 ha impactado a muchos países del mundo, forzando a los gobiernos, al sector privado, a la sociedad civil y a organismos regionales e internacionales a modificar sus planes de trabajo. De manera paralela, varios países del Este de África, del Sudoeste de Asia y de América Latina están experimentando los impactos de la plaga de langosta.  

Convencidos que las tecnologías espaciales pueden jugar un papel preponderante en apoyar los esfuerzos que llevan a cabo las instituciones en materia de gestión para la reducción de riesgos, la preparación, la respuesta y la recuperación en caso de desastres; la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas... read more

Noticias

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In order to discuss and promote the use of space technologies in addressing natural hazards such as forest fires and landslides in Latin America, UN-SPIDER conducted a virtual regional expert meeting on the topic of “Space-based Solutions for Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Response in Latin America” from 22 to 24 September 2020. The meeting was jointly organized with UN-SPIDER Regional Support Offices from Argentina (National Space Activities Commission, CONAE), Brazil (Federal University of Santa Maria, UFSM), Colombia (Geographic Institute Agustin Condazzi, IGAC), and Mexico (Mexican Space Agency, AEM).

In Latin America, UN-SPIDER and its Regional Support Offices have regularly carried out regional expert meetings, training courses and other joint efforts since 2011. The last Regional Expert Meeting took place in 2017 in Mexico.

The meeting, which consisted of three two-hour-long sessions, brought together a total of over 200 disaster management stakeholders... read more

Publishing date: 28/09/2020
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According to the latest issue of an annual disaster statistics report, floods were the deadliest type of disasters in 2019, followed by extreme temperature, while storms affected the highest number of people. Published by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), “Natural disasters 2019 - Now is the time to not give up” draws on data recorded in the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT), which saw the addition of 396 disasters that affected a total of 95 million and caused $103 billion in economic losses around the world. 

Accounting for 40 per cent of disaster events, Asia suffered the highest impact with 45 per cent of deaths and 74 per cent of total affected. India, which saw cyclone Fani cause destruction in 2019, was the country most affected... read more

Publishing date: 20/08/2020
Image: GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences.

On 22 December 2018 a large chunk of the Anak Krakatau volcanic island collapsed into the ocean, causing a tsunami that swept across Indonesia’s Sunda Strait. Because tsunami early warning systems are exclusively equipped to detect tsunamis that are generated by earthquakes, this volcanic collapse-caused tsunami took place without a warning. In the coastal regions of Java and Sumatra, where people were struck off guard, the tsunami killed 400 people and injured many more.

A recent research study published in Nature Communications and led by the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) has detected deformations in Anak Krakatau leading up to the tsunami that could serve as an early warning system for future volcanic collapses. Satellite data plays a key role in developing such early warning systems by providing monitoring capabilities. As early as late June 2018, the Moderate Resolution Imaging... read more

Publishing date: 13/11/2019

Recommended Practices

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