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Engineering geomorphological interpretation of the Mitchell Creek Landslide, British Columbia, Canada


The recent assessment of the Mitchell Creek Landslide (MCL) in northern British Columbia is a good case history of engineering geomorphological analysis of a large landslide. It was completed using historic aerial photographs, with approximately 20-year time intervals dating back to the mid-twentieth century and field investigations completed between 2008 and 2014. The large bedrock slide initiated between 1956 and 1972 and continues to experience ongoing annual movements. Significant glacial downwasting and retreat has been observed in the photographic record, and it is hypothesized that alpine glaciation has contributed to development of the MCL. This paper documents four aspects of the engineering geomorphological assessment completed at the MCL: (i) topographic evolution, (ii) slope morphology, (iii) deformation features, and (iv) displacement behavior. Four distinct geomorphic zones have been defined at the MCL based on these analyses, controlled by different failure mechanisms. The extents of these zones have changed little over the documented history of the landslide, and rates of movement estimated from aerial photography have been consistent over the last 60 years. Retreat of the Mitchell Valley Glacier appears to have played an important role in landslide initiation, as the ice mass receded the kinematic freedom of the slope increased. This study of the initiation and development of the MCL demonstrates the capabilities of a multi-faceted approach to engineering geomorphology. The combination of historical aerial photographs with digital photogrammetric modeling and point cloud analysis techniques, and geomorphological mapping, allows for development of a robust understanding of landslide behavior.

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Correspondence to Anne Clayton.

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Clayton, A., Stead, D., Kinakin, D. et al. Engineering geomorphological interpretation of the Mitchell Creek Landslide, British Columbia, Canada. Landslides 14, 1655–1675 (2017).

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  • Landslide
  • Geomorphology
  • Remote sensing
  • Photogrammetry
  • Glacial retreat