The 17 February 2006 rock slide-debris avalanche at Guinsaugon Philippines: a synthesis

  • Richard H. GuthrieEmail author
  • Stephen G. Evans
  • Sandra G. Catane
  • Mark A. H. Zarco
  • Ricarido M. SaturayJr.
Original Paper


The paper presents a synthesis of the key findings of the conference and workshop convened to consider the causes of and lessons to be learned from the disastrous rockslide-debris avalanche on 17 February 2006 in southern Leyte, Philippines. Some 1,221 people died and the barangay of Guinsagon was buried. The geology, historical seismicity, progressive disintegration of the rock mass, development of smectite layers and the continuous development and movement of shears within the Philippine Fault Zone combine in the steep rugged terrain to produce massive landslides, of which the 15 million m3 Guinsaugon event was the latest. The relevance of recent heavy rain and an almost synchronous seismic event are considered but it is concluded that the movement was the result of progressive failures and tectonic weakening while the landslide hazard was increased by the presence of rice paddy fields in the valley bottom. An anecdotal time to failure curve is presented, based on eyewitness accounts and observations of instability. Attention is drawn to the importance of both the education and training of the local people in the recognition of signs of potential movement and a reporting management system. Such simple measures could save lives and empower local communities to take some ownership of their level of landslide risk.


Landslide disaster Philippines Time to failure Rockslide-debris avalanche Landslide trigger Landslide risk 



The authors acknowledge the contributions from approximately 160 scientists, survivors, students and local elected officials who participated in the 2008 Guinsaugon conference and workshop, Leyte Island Philippines. The conference was convened by the University of Philippines and the University of Waterloo, and we acknowledge financial assistance from the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the city of Tacloban and the municipality of Saint Bernard. Finally this paper is respectfully dedicated to the memory of the people who lost their lives in the Guinsaugon landslide.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard H. Guthrie
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stephen G. Evans
    • 1
  • Sandra G. Catane
    • 2
  • Mark A. H. Zarco
    • 3
  • Ricarido M. SaturayJr.
    • 2
  1. 1.Landslide Research Program, Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.National Institute of Geological Sciences, College of ScienceUniversity of PhilippinesQuezon CityPhilippines
  3. 3.Institute of Civil Engineering, College of EngineeringUniversity of PhilippinesQuezon CityPhilippines

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