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).

Related content

News

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... read more

Publishing date: 13/11/2019
Norway as seen by MODIS on board of Aqua satellite on 16 January 2017. Image: NASA/ edited by antilip.

A consortium of Norwegian institutions has used Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellite data in combination with the Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) remote sensing technique to map ground movements in the country. The Geological Survey of Norway (NGU), the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) and the Norwegian Space Centre (NSC) make results freely accessible through InSAR Norway, a service launched in November 2018. The service aims to produce ground deformation measurements in the country and improve accessibility of InSAR results for public and... read more

Publishing date: 07/03/2019

Event

Image: NASA.

Learning Objectives: 


By the end of this training, attendees will be able to:

  • Create a flood map using Google Earth Engine
  • Generate a map characterizing areas where landslides have occurred
  • Generate a digital... read more
CSSTEAP logo. Image: CSSTEAP.

The Asia-Pacific region faces major disaster risks in the form of earthquakes and tsunamis, tropical cyclones and typhoons, landslides, flash floods, avalanches and glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs). Due to the large ... read more

This webinar focuses on Flood History and - Risk as well as on Land Motion (subsidence), but related topics that will be touched upon are LU/LC and Change, Transport Infrastructure and Green Urban areas, as these are also relevant for assessing sustainability of cities with respect to Climate Resilience and... read more

Advisory Support

Upon the request of the Ministry of Territorial Administration (MINAT), Government of Cameroon, UN-SPIDER carried out a week-long Institutional Strengthening Mission (ISM) to Yaoundé from 15 to 19 July. The mission aimed to strengthen the capacities of the Department of Civil Protection (DPC) of Cameroon in using space-based information in all phases of the disaster management cycle. It was the third UN-SPIDER mission to Cameroon after a Technical Advisory Mission (TAM) in 2011 and an Institutional Strengthening Mission (ISM) in 2012, the latter including a training course on “Remote Sensing for Disaster Management”.

Mission dates: 15/07/2019 to 19/07/2019

As part of the technical advisory support it provides to countries worldwide, UN-SPIDER carried out an Institutional Strengthening Mission to Nepal from 17 to 21 December 2018 upon the request of the government. The mission was a follow-up activity to the Technical Advisory Mission (TAM) to Nepal in July 2017 that assessed use of space-derived information in all aspects of disaster management and offered recommendations and action plan to strengthen the disaster risk management and emergency response in the country. The TAM and ISM were conducted with support from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA). The Nepal GIS Society also offered support in organizing the programme.

Mission dates: 17/12/2018 to 21/12/2018

Data Source

Publishing institution: Canadian Space Agency (CSA)
Screenshot of Global Soil Erosion (ESDAC)
Publishing institution: Joint Research Center, European Commission (JRC)
The European Soil Data Centre (ESDAC) has provided a map with soil assessments from the years 2001 and 2012.

GP-STAR factsheet

Schematic Workflow for the derivation of an exemplary Sendai indicator using crisis information generated from satellite remote sensing (Source: own figure; Copernicus Emergency Management Service (©European Union), EMSN024, EMSN056)
Publishing institution: German Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance

To meet the global challenges, the United Nations adopted several framework agreements, including the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction at the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030). The framework builds the international reference point for disaster preparedness and focuses on... read more

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