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Landslides

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 107–120 | Cite as

Debris flows caused by failure of fill slopes: early detection, warning, and loss prevention

  • Thomas K. CollinsEmail author
Original Article

Abstract

This paper describes early detection, warning, and loss prevention for debris flows originating as failures of fill slopes. Worldwide, fill slopes constructed on steep terrain for roads, hillside residential developments, timber harvest landings, etc., are an increasing source of debris-flow hazards. Some fill failures that generate debris flows are the final stage of incremental failures that provide warning signs of instability in the months or years before the debris flow. Mapping and analysis of minor features, such as cracks and small scarps, on paved or unpaved surfaces of fills can identify incipient and impending fill failures that are major debris-flow hazards. Potential debris-flow paths can be mapped and risk assessments conducted. Loss prevention or reduction can be achieved by (1) prioritized maintenance, (2) prioritized repair, (3) monitoring, (4) warnings for emergency officials and the public, and (5) risk avoidance or reduction in land-use planning, zoning, cooperation between jurisdictions, and project development.

Keywords

Debris flows Fill slopes Loss of life and infrastructure Fill slope failure 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The author expresses his gratitude to the US Geological Survey Appalachian Region program and the Extreme Storm team interagency working group (USGS, National Park Service, US Forest Service, Federal Highways Administration) for leadership and support in recognizing incremental failure of fill slopes as an emerging issue worthy of increased investigation and research. The author expresses his gratitude to (1) Bob Sas and Scott Eaton, James Madison University, for their outstanding work and cooperation in assessing road-fill instability on the Blue Ridge Parkway, (2) Rick Wooten and Rebecca Latham, North Carolina Geological Survey, for their help and leadership on landslide hazards, (3) National Forests in North Carolina for support as part of the Hurricane Frances and Ivan recovery effort, and (4) Scott Eaton and Ray Wilson, USGS, for review of draft paper.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.George Washington and Jefferson National ForestsRoanokeUSA

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