6 Causes of Rockslides and How to Prevent Them

The terms rockslides, mudslides or landslides all refer to the downward movement of significant masses of organic debris, mud, soil, or rocks.

They are prevalent in areas with steep slopes like mountainous regions, and the majority of rock slides occur as a result of several facts that act in unison to destabilize a hill. 

The result being gravity influencing weakened materials that are integral to the stabilization of an area of land with slopes.

Today, we will look into six causes of rockslides and possible ways you can protect your family and home.

Natural Movement of Soil

This is the most prevalent cause of rockslides, mudslides, and landslides. Soil formations tend to displace a few inches or centimetres each decade; more often than not, these movements do not have an immediate impact on lives and are not a threat.

However, the movement of soil due to the earth movement, coupled with tectonic plate activities, can lead to extreme actions that can trigger rockslides.

You can invest in rockfall barriers such as active systems that limit the excessive movement once a rock detachment has occurred. 

The other alternative is passive systems that intercept falling debris to control and direct the falling rocks. This reduces the potential impact and damage of property and roads.

Excessive Rainfall

Sudden extended rainfall has been the cause of some of the most destructive slides in human history; water has been known to trigger mudslides, landslides, as well as rockslides.

Excessive rain brings alteration in the pressure of a slope, leading to instability of said slope. 

As a result of this, heavy water-soaked materials such as rock, soil, debris, volcanic residue and the likes will succumb to the effects of gravity.

Erosion

This is also a frequent trigger of rockslides; erosion is the degradation and transport of soil or rock and is triggered by water, wind, or gravity.

Simply put, erosion is the extreme movement of rock or soil due to several reasons; the process of erosion can be sudden or take thousands of years.

Increased human activity has also been known to significantly erode a surface, making humans an unnatural cause of erosion.

Deforestation

It is a well-known fact that deforestation is never a good thing, its adverse effects outweigh its positives, and one of the negative impacts of deforestation is rockslides.

Plants play an essential role in maintaining healthy soil mass when a piece of land undergoes deforestation, deeply rooted plants die out due to the absence of plants.

This results in a weak soil that cannot support as much weight as it used to due to the looseness of ground, giving way for rock and landslides to occur.

Earthquakes

Earthquakes occur as a result of two blocks of earth slipping past each other, fault plates are the surface where the blocks of earth slip.

The hypocenter is the location where the earthquake begins below the earth’s surface, while the location above it on the earth’s surface is known as Epicenter.

When an earthquake occurs on a location with steep slopes, the soil or rock tends to slip, causing landslides or rockslides. Earthquakes can also result in the movement of debris.

Drought

Many areas of Australia have been in the grips of the worst drought in living memory. The land has been parched and hardened due to the lack of rain. This has been devastating for many.

When the rains did come, there was a lot of runoff and soil displacement. This meant that debry, including rocks, were carried along by the water. We saw pictures of rockslides covering and blocking roads. 

There is little one can sometimes do to protect from rockslides, there are, however, preventative measures which are worth considering. 

Image Pixabay License CCO