2What is Mass Wasting?Mass wasting is the movement of rocks and soil downhill due to the force of gravity.Mass wasting can take many different forms.Examples of mass wasting include avalanches, rockslides, mudflows, and many more.
4What Causes Mass Wasting? Gravity is the main cause of all mass wasting.The likelihood of a mass wasting event can be influenced by the following four factors.Water Saturation – A little bit of water can actually stabilize the soil, but when soils become saturated they turn into mud.
6Causes of Mass WastingOversteepening of Slopes – There are both natural and man-made sources for oversteepening of slopes.The steeper the slope, the more mass wasting.Removal of Vegetation – Plants have roots that hold the soil in place. When vegetation is removed, mass wasting increases.
7Oversteepening of Slopes and Removal of Vegetation This area in California experienced a wildfire, reducing the vegetation in 2003.Intense rainfall two months later produced a debris flow in the canyon below, killing 13 people.
8Causes of Mass WastingEarthquakes – Earthquakes can accelerate the rate of mass wasting. Seismic waves produced by earthquakes can dislodge loose rocks and cause unsaturated soils to become saturated.During the 1964 Earthquake in Alaska, many places in Southcentral Alaska experienced mass wasting in the form of liquefaction.
9Liquefaction of Soils during the 1964 Alaskan Earthquake
10Different Types of Mass Wasting Geologists classify mass wasting events based on the kind of material that moves, how it moves, and the speed at which it moves.Rockfalls – Occurs when large rocks free fall through the air. Occurs on very steep slopes. These are the fastest type of mass wasting.
11RockfallHere is a picture of a rockfall in Yosemite National Park
12Different Types of Mass Wasting Rockslides – Occurs when large rocks slide along a flat inclined surface. These are the next fastest type of mass wasting, reaching speeds of 200 km per hour (100 MPH).Mudflows – Mudflows are the next fastest type of mass wasting. Mudflows contain a mixture of soil, rock, and water. They have the consistency of wet concrete.A particular type of mudflow created by a volcano melting glaciers on its summit is called a lahar.
13Massive Rock Slide in British Colombia blocking the Highway
14Different Types of Mass Wasting Mudflows are some of the most dangerous types of mass wasting events.In 1988, a dangerous type of mudflow called a lahar, was triggered by a volcanic eruption in Columbia that killed 25,000 people.
15Images of the Destruction Caused by Mudflows and Lahars
16Different Types of Mass Wasting Earthflows – earthflows are relatively slow. They move about 1 mm to several meters per day. They vary in size from a few meters long and 1 meter deep, to a kilometer long and 10 meters deep. They occur most often on wet hillsides and they can last for several years.
18Different Types of Mass Wasting Slump – Slumps are similar to earthflows. They move relatively slow. Slumps do not travel very far, and they move along a curved surface and leave behind a crescent-shaped cliff when they occur.
20Different Types of Mass Wasting Creep – Creep is the slowest type of mass wasting. Creep only travels a few millimeters or a few centimeters per year.Creep is generally caused by contraction and expansion of soils as a result of the regular freeze-thaw cycles due to the seasons.