Landslide Facts for Kids

Landslides happen when there is wastes or movement of the ground that causes things to happen such as rockfalls, slope failures, or mudflows. Landslides can happen anywhere, and they can happen on a small slope or a steep slope and can occur on the coastal cliffs, underwater, or in the mountain ranges.

The reason that landslides happen is that gravity pulls the land downward, but it is triggered by environmental conditions such as earthquakes, rainfall, erosion, slope cut, and construction.

Landslide Facts for Kids:

  • Landslides occur when rock, debris, or earth slide down a slope due to gravity.
  • An unstable subsurface caused by natural or human causes can trigger a landslide
  • Underwater landslides can also cause Tsunamis.
  • Erosion by rivers, glaciers, or ocean waves can cause landslides
  • Storms and heavy rain can contribute to causing landslides.
  • Scientists cannot predict how long a landslide will last.
  • When the weather warms up quickly, it can cause snow to melt quickly and this can cause landslides to happen.
  • Wildfires can cause landslides to happen because fires cause the roots of trees to decay and the trees cannot hold the soil and rock in place.
  • Landslides can cause Tsunamis because when an island or a volcano collapses into the water, it can cause water to be pushed and can cause Tsunamis to happen.
  • When Alaska had an earthquake in 1964, it caused submarine landslides to happen and this caused there to be 5 Tsunamis.
  • The biggest landslide in the world happened in the Cascade Mountain Range in the State of Washington.
  • Debris means pieces that are broken and scattered because of some kind of destruction.
  • Friction means when there is a force between two solid objects, and they resist the movement.
  • Saturated means when something is holding as much moisture as it can.
  • Monsoons, or heavy rains, can cause landslides.
  • The most expensive landslide to fix was in Utah.

Are Landslides Dangerous?

Landslides can cause a lot of damage when they happen.

This damage can cause paths to be swept away, it can cause trees, homes, and even things in the way to be covered or damaged.

When a landslide happens, rivers and lakes can be filled in or covered and in a terrible situation, even towns can be destroyed by landslides.

Landslide Cusco

How Does a Landslide Start?

In order for a landslide to happen, there must first be a slope, and more than likely, it will be a steep slope.

When there are waves and heavy rains or some type of erosion, the surface of the slope can start to get worn away.  When something gets worn away, this is called erosion.

When erosion happens, it can cause the slope to become even steeper and the slope becomes weak and is not able to support all of the soil and rocks that are on it.

This can cause the material on the slope to be loose and when the gravity comes, it can cause all of the rocks and soil to come tumbling down the slope.

What Besides Erosion Can Cause Landslides?

Even though erosion is a big reason that there are landslides, other things such as when big snows melt and when there are heavy rainstorms, the material on the slope can still be loosened and can cause landslides to happen.

Natural disasters such as earthquakes or volcanoes can also cause landslides.

When areas experience explosions or shaking, this can cause the material of the slope to be loosened and can cause a landslide to happen.

What is a Submarine Landslide?

When there is an earthquake, the land under the water can begin to quake and slide.

When this happens, this is called a submarine landslide.

Where Do Landslides Happen?

Coastal landslide – Danger of collapse

Landslides can happen in:

  • All regions
  • All 50 states
  • Coastal Areas
  • Mountainous Areas
  • Hilly Areas

How Fast Do Landslides Travel?

Landslides can travel at a slow rate or a fast rate.  Some landslides can travel at:

  • 200 miles per hour.
  • 30-50 miles per hour.

There are different things that depend on how fast the landslide will travel such as:

  • How steep the slope is.
  • What type of Earth is on the slope.
  • The angle of the slope.
  • How much water hits the slope.
  • What type of debris is on the slope.

Why is it Important to Understand Landslides?

It is important for people to study landslides because they cause a lot of damage and they sometimes even cause people to die.

  • The United States had over $1 billion dollars of damage from landslides.
  • There are around 25-50 people that die from landslides each year.

What Areas Are More at Risk from Landslide?

Walls of a house slowly fall inward as the earth moves below

People that live in areas that are hilly or mountainous have a chance to experience a landslide.

When there is new construction, it is important for them to understand about landslides so that they can build things that will help to reduce the landslides from happening.

What Are Some Major Landslides That Happened?

  • On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helen had a major landslide.
  • On March 22, 2014, Oso, Washington had a major landslide.
  • On April 9, 2000, Tibet had one of the largest recorded landslides.
  • On August 8, 2010, Zhougu, China had a major landslide.

Do People Cause Landslides?

Gaveta earthflow

Sometimes the things that people do can cause landslides.

When people build roads, buildings, and other things, they sometimes forget about the drainage and how their buildings can increase landslides or cause older ones to happen again.

What Can Scientists Use to Keep an Eye Out for Landslides?

  • ASTER-a satellite map that shows slopes and hills.
  • Global Precipitation Measurement or GPM-this is a satellite to map how much rain has fallen.

What Other Things Are Like Landslides?

Huge avalanche comes from a big mountain (Shkhara, 5,193 m), Caucasus, Kabardino-Balkaria, Bezengi region, Russia

Other things that are similar to landslides are:

  • Mudflows
  • Rockfalls
  • Avalanches

These things do the same thing as a landslide except the material is different.  

Mudflow –  happens when mud falls down a slope quickly.

Rockfall – happens when there are large rocks that are weighted down, and they are being loosened. These rocks can fall down and cause huge problems.

Avalanches –  happen when snowfalls are on a steep slope and cause the avalanche to fall to the bottom of the slope.

Sehara Miepref

What Did You Learn?

  • What is a landslide?  A landslide is when rock and debris fall from a steep slope.
  • Are landslides dangerous?  Landslides can be very dangerous.  They can cause damage to homes, property, lakes, rivers and they can even destroy entire towns.
  • What causes landslides?  Landslides can be caused by erosion, rainfall, melting snow, and more.
  • What is a landslide that happens under a body of water called?  When a landslide happens under the water like in an ocean or a lake, it is called a submarine landslide.
  • Can landslides cause other damage?  When a landslide happens, it can cause there to be earthquakes and even tsunamis.