The Mocoa Event on March 31 (2017): analysis of a series of mass movements in a tropical environment of the Andean-Amazonian Piedmont


On the night of March 31, 2017, a series of mass movements took place in the Mocoa Basin and devastated the northwestern part of its urban area. The mass movements were triggered by a 4-day rainfall accumulation and high rainfall intensities on the night of the event. After the trigger, about 420 mass movements transported material as landslides, debris flows, and hyperconcentrated flows along the Taruquita and Taruca creeks and Sangoyaco River on the northern side, and as landslides and mudflows along the Mulato River on its southern side, resulting in major damages to both its population and infrastructure. Previous reports by Cheng et al. (2018) and García-Delgado et al. (2019) described the event from a hydrological and geological perspective, connecting them with the damage caused by the event, but leaving aside an analysis of the series of mass movements and its characteristics. This work presents an extended review of these mass movements and studies them via a statistical analysis, providing a detailed review of the event’s characteristics and their relationship with the resultant damage. These characteristics are compared with the existing hazard maps and they provide valuable information and awareness on hazard management for communities settled in the northern Andes.

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The authors wish to thank the Colombian Agency for Risk Management (UNGRD) and the Colombian Geological Service (SGC) for the base information used in this article.


L.F. Prada-Sarmiento and A.M. Ramos-Cañón would like to acknowledge the financial support granted by Pontificia Universidad Javeriana with the internal research project PPTA 07986-PRY 08217. M.A. Cabrera received funding from Universidad de los Andes, Early-stage Researcher Fund (FAPA) under Grant No. PR.3.2016.3667. M.A. Cabrera, R. Camacho, and N. Estrada received funding from the Office of the vice-Chancellor for Development and Alumnae at Universidad de los Andes.

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Correspondence to Luis Felipe Prada-Sarmiento.

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Prada-Sarmiento, L.F., Cabrera, M.A., Camacho, R. et al. The Mocoa Event on March 31 (2017): analysis of a series of mass movements in a tropical environment of the Andean-Amazonian Piedmont. Landslides 16, 2459–2468 (2019).

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  • Mocoa
  • Debris flows
  • Landslides
  • Case-study