, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 589–603 | Cite as

Characteristics of landslides in western Colorado, USA

  • Netra R. RegmiEmail author
  • John R. Giardino
  • John D. Vitek
Original Paper


Mass movement can be activated by earthquakes, rapid snowmelt, or intense rainstorms in conjunction with gravity. Whereas mass movement plays a major role in the evolution of a hillslope by modifying slope morphology and transporting material from the slope to the valley, it is also a potential natural hazard. Determining the relationships of frequency and magnitude of landslides are fundamental to understanding the role of landslides in the study of landscape evolution, hazard assessment, and determination of the rate of hillslope denudation. We mapped 735 shallow and active landslides in the Paonia to McClure Pass area of western Colorado from aerial photographs and field surveys. The study area covers ∼815 km2. The frequency–magnitude relationships of the landslides illustrate the flux of debris by mass movement in the area. The comparison of the probability density of the landslides with the double Pareto curve, defined by power scaling for negative slope (α), power scaling for positive slope (β), and location of rollover (t), shows that α = 1.1, β = 1.9, and t = 1,600 m2 for areas of landslides and α = 1.15, β = 1.8, and t = 1,900 m3 for volumes of landslides. The total area of landslides is 4.8 × 106 m2 and the total volume of the landslides is 1.4 × 107 m3. The areas (A) and the volumes (V) of landslides are related by V = 0.0254 × A 1.45. The frequency–magnitude analysis shows that landslides with areas ranging in size from 1,600 to 20,000 m2 are the most hazardous landslides in the study area. These landslides are the most frequent and also do a significant amount of geomorphic work. We also developed a conceptual model of hillslope development to upland plateau driven by river incision, shallow landsliding, and deep-seated large landsliding. The gentle slope to flat upland plateau that dominated the Quaternary landscape of the study area was modified to the present steep and rugged topography by the combined action of fluvial incision and glacial processes in response to rock uplift, very-frequent shallow landsliding, and less-frequent deep-seated landsliding.


Landslides Frequency-magnitude relationship Hillslope denudation Landscape evolution 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Netra R. Regmi
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • John R. Giardino
    • 2
  • John D. Vitek
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, Desert Research InstituteRenoUSA
  2. 2.HAARP (High Alpine and Arctic Research Program) and Department of Geology and GeophysicsTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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