Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 66, Issue 3, pp 941–953 | Cite as

The national landslide database of Great Britain: development, evolution and applications

  • C. Foster
  • C. V. L. Pennington
  • M. G. Culshaw
  • K. Lawrie
Original Article


Landslide inventories are essential because they provide the basis for predictive landslide hazard and susceptibility assessments and because they allow for the manipulation and storage of temporal and spatial data. The National Landslide Database has been developed by the British Geological Survey (BGS). It is the most extensive source of information on landslides in Great Britain with over 15,000 records of landslide events each documented as fully as possible. This information is invaluable for planners and developers as it helps them investigate, avoid or mitigate areas of unstable ground in accordance with Government planning policy guidelines. Therefore, it is vital that the continual verification, collection and updating of landslide information is carried out as part of the Survey’s ‘National Capability’ work. This paper describes the evolution from a static database to one that is continually updated forming part of a suite of national digital hazard products. The history of the National Landslide Database and associated Geographical Information System (GIS) is discussed, together with its application and future development.


Landslide Database GIS Land-use planning 


  1. Anon (2008) Landslides in Italy. Special Report 83/2008. Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, RomeGoogle Scholar
  2. Appleton JD (1995) Radon, methane, carbon dioxide, oil seeps and potentially harmful elements from natural sources and mining areas: relevance to planning and development in Great Britain—summary report. Technical Report WP/95/4. British Geological Survey, Keyworth, NottinghamGoogle Scholar
  3. Applied Geology Ltd (1993) Review of instability due to natural underground cavities in Great Britain. Report to the Department of the Environment, vol 14. Applied Geology Ltd., Royal Leamington SpaGoogle Scholar
  4. Arup Geotechnics (1991) Review of mining instability in Great Britain. Report to the Department of the Environment, vol 25. Arup Geotechnics, Newcastle-upon-TyneGoogle Scholar
  5. Berkland JO (1977) Landslide chronology—the need for standardization. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs, 9, 4, 388Google Scholar
  6. British Geological Survey (2009a) Landslides on the A85 road, Glen Ogle, Lochearnhead, Stirlingshire, http://www.bgs.ac.uk/science/landuseanddevelopment/landslides/GlenOgle.html, [accessed 29 November 2009]
  7. British Geological Survey (2009b) Landslide at Knipe Point, Cayton Bay, North Yorkshire, http://www.bgs.ac.uk/science/landuseanddevelopment/landslides/CaytonBay.html, [Accessed 29 November 2009]
  8. British Geological Survey (2009c) Landslide at Lyme Regis, Dorset, http://www.bgs.ac.uk/science/landuseanddevelopment/landslides/LymeRegis.html, [accessed 29 November 2009]
  9. Brook D (2002) Land use planning as an element in risk management. In: McInnes RG, Jakeways J (eds) Instability: planning and management: seeking sustainable solutions to ground movement problems. Proceedings of the International Conference organised by the Centre for the Coastal Environment, Isle of Wight Council. Ventnor, Isle of Wight. Thomas Telford, London, pp 127–134Google Scholar
  10. Casagli N, Catani F, Puglisi C, Delmonaco G, Ermini L, Margottini C (2004) An inventory-based approach to landslide susceptibility assessment and its application to the Virginio River Basin, Italy. Environ Eng Geosci 10(3):203–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chandler RJ (1970) The degradation of Lias Clay Slopes in an area of the East Midlands. Q J Eng Geol 2:161–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Conway BW, Forster A, Northmore KJ, Barclay W (1980) South Wales coalfield landslip survey. British Geological Survey, Technical Report EG/80/4, LondonGoogle Scholar
  13. Cooper AH (2008) The GIS approach to evaporite-karst geohazards in Great Britain. Environ Geol 53(5):981–992CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cooper AH, Farrant AR, Adlam KAM, Walsby JC (2001) The development of a national Geographic Information System (GIS) for British karst geohazards and risk assessment. In: Beck BF, Herring JG (eds) Geotechnical and Environmental Applications of Karst Geology and Hydrology, 125–130. AA Balkema, LisseGoogle Scholar
  15. CRED (2009) The international disaster database. Centre for research on the epidemiology of disasters, brussels. www.emdat.be/database (accessed 9 February 2010)
  16. Cruden DM, Brown W (1992) Progress towards the world landslide inventory. In: Bell DH (ed) Proceedings of the 6th International Symposium on Landslides, Christchurch, New Zealand, vol 1, pp 59–64. AA Balkema, RotterdamGoogle Scholar
  17. Dai F, Lee C (2002) Landslide characteristics and slope instability modeling using GIS, Lantau Island, Hong Kong. Geomorphology 42(3–4):213–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Department of the Environment (DoE) (1990) Planning policy guidance: development on unstable land. PPG14. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, LondonGoogle Scholar
  19. Department of the Environment (DoE) (1996) Planning policy guidance: development on unstable land: landslides and planning. PPG 14 (Annex 1). Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. Dikau R, Brunsden D, Schrott L, Ibsen ML (eds) (1996) Landslide recognition: identification, movement and causes. Wiley & Sons, ChichesterGoogle Scholar
  21. Doornkamp JC, Griffiths JS, Lee EM, Tragheim D, Charman JH (1988) Planning and development: applied earth science background: Torbay. Report for the Department of the Environment. Volume 1 plus 10 maps. Geomorphological Services (Publications and Reprographics) Ltd. Newport Pagnell, UKGoogle Scholar
  22. Duman TY, Can T, Emre O, Kecer M, Dogan A, Ates S, Durmaz S (2005) Landslide inventory of northwestern Anatolia, Turkey. Eng Geol 77(1–2):99–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Early KR, Skempton A (1972) Investigation of the landslide at Walton’s Wood, Staffordshire. Q J Eng Geol 5:19–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. European Environment Agency (2003) Mapping the impacts of recent natural disasters and technological accidents in Europe. Environmental Issue Report no 35. European Environment Agency, Copenhagen. Download: http://www.preventionweb.net/files/672_7808.pdf, [accessed 29 November 2009]
  25. European Space Agency (2005) Giant robot helps prevent landslides. http://www.esa.int/esaMI/Technology_Transfer/SEM9R03AR2E_0.html. [accessed 29 November 2009]
  26. Farrant AR, Cooper AH (2008) Karst geohazards in the UK: the use of digital data for hazard management. Q J Eng Geol Hydrogeol 41:339–356Google Scholar
  27. Fish P, Carey J, Moore R (2006) Landslide geomorphology of Cayton Bay, North Yorkshire. Proc Yorkshire Geol Soc 56(1):5–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Flageollet JC (ed) (1993) The temporal occurrence and forecasting of landslides in the European community. Report of the EPOCH Project. Contract no. 90,0025, Vol 3Google Scholar
  29. Flentje P, Stirling D, Chowdhury RN (2007) Landslide susceptibility and hazard derived from a landslide inventory using data mining—an Australian case study. In: Proceedings of the 1st North American Landslide Conference, Landslides and Society: Integrated Science, Engineering, Management, and Mitigation. Vail, Colorado. On CD-ROM, Paper number 17823-024Google Scholar
  30. Galli M, Guzzetti F (2007) Landslide vulnerability criteria: a case study from Umbria, Central Italy. Environ Manag 40:649–664CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Geomorphological Services Limited (GSL) (1987) Review of research into landsliding in Great Britain. Series E, National summary and recommendations. Report to the Department of the Environment, Geomorphological Services (Publications and Reprographics) Limited, Newport PagnellGoogle Scholar
  32. Geomorphological Services Limited (GSL) (1989) Landslide data bank for Britain: user manual version 1.0. Geomorphological Services (Publications and Reprographics) Limited, Newport PagnellGoogle Scholar
  33. Geotechnics Rendel (1995) Erosion, deposition and flooding in Great Britain—a summary report. Rendel Geotechnics, LondonGoogle Scholar
  34. Guzzetti F, Ardizzone F, Cardinali M, Galli M, Reichenbach P, Rossi M (2008) Distribution of landslides in the Upper Tiber River basin, central Italy. Geomorphology 96(1–2):105–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hutchinson JN (1976) Coastal landslides in cliffs of Pleistocene deposits between Cromer and Overstrand, Norfolk, England. In: Janbu N, Jorstad F, Kjaernsli B (eds) Laurits Bjerrum memorial volume, contributions to soil mechanics. Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, Oslo, pp 155–182Google Scholar
  36. International Consortium on Landslides (ICL) (2006) International consortium on landslides: database of landslides of the world. (http://www2.co-conv.jp/~landslide/v2/landslide/simple.php, 4.11.2007), [accessed 29 November 2009]
  37. International Geotechnical Societies UNESCO Working Party on World Landslide Inventory (WP/WLI) (1990) A suggested method for reporting a landslide. Bull Int Assoc Eng Geol 41:5–12Google Scholar
  38. JelínekR, Wood M, Hervás J (2007) Landslide mapping and landslide data in new member states. Report of the European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen, Ispra, Italy. EUR 22950 EN. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg. (http://eusoils.jrc.ec.europa.eu/ESDB_Archive/eusoils_docs/other/EUR22950.pdf), [accessed 29 November 2009]
  39. Jones DKC (1998) Landsliding in the Midlands: a critical evaluation of the contribution of the National Landslide Survey. East Midland Geogr 21(22):106–125Google Scholar
  40. Jones DKC, Lee EM (1994) Landsliding in Great Britain. Department of the Environment, LondonGoogle Scholar
  41. Jordan CJ (2009) BGS SIGMA mobile; the BGS digital field mapping system in action. In: Digital Mapping Techniques 2009 Proceedings, May 10–13, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA. US Geological Survey Open-file ReportGoogle Scholar
  42. Jordan CJ, Bee EJ, Smith NA, Lawley RS, Ford J, Howard AS, Laxton JL (2005) The development of digital field data collection systems to fulfil the British Geological Survey mapping requirements. GIS and Spatial Analysis: Annual Conference of the International Association for Mathematical Geology, Toronto, Canada, York University, pp 886–891Google Scholar
  43. Komac M, Fajfar D, Ravnik D, Ribieie M (2007) Slovenian national landslide database—a promising approach to slope mass movement prevention plan. Geologia 50(2):393–402CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Lee EM, Jones DKC (2004) Landslide risk assessment. Thomas Telford, LondonGoogle Scholar
  45. McGuire B, Mason I, Kilburn C (2002) Natural hazards and environmental change. Arnold, LondonGoogle Scholar
  46. Osuchowski M, Atkinson R (2008) Connecting diverse landslide inventories for improved information in Australia. In: Casagli N, Fanti R, Tofani V (eds) Proceedings of the First World Landslide Forum, Tokyo, Japan, 67–70. (http://www., [accessed 29 November 2009]
  47. Skempton A, Weeks A (1976) The Quaternary history of the Lower Greensand escarpment and Weald Clay vale near Sevenoaks, Kent. Phil Trans R Soc A 283:493–526CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Soeters R, Van Westen CJ (1996) Slope instability recognition, analysis and zonation. In: Transportation Research Board Special Report 247, National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, DC, pp 129–177Google Scholar
  49. Turcotte DL, Malamud BD, Guzzetti F, Reichenbach P (2005) A general landslide distribution: further examination. In: Hungr O, Fell R, Couture R, Eberhardt E (eds) Landslide risk management, Vancouver, Canada. Taylor & Francis, London, pp 675–680Google Scholar
  50. Varnes D (1978) Slope movement types and processes. In: Schuster RL, Krizek RJ (eds) Transportation Research Board Special Report 176: Landslides: Analysis and Control. National Research Council, Washington, DC, pp 11–33Google Scholar
  51. Walsby JC (2007) Geohazard information to meet the needs of the British public and governmental policy. Quat Int 171(172):179–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Walsby JC (2008) GeoSure: a bridge between geology and decision-makers. In: Liverman DGE, Pereira CPG, Marker B (eds) Communicating environmental geoscience. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, vol 305, pp 81–87Google Scholar
  53. Wimpey Environmental, NHBC (1995) Foundation conditions in Great Britain: a guide to planners and developers, 2 volumes. Wimpey Environmental, Hayes, MiddlesexGoogle Scholar
  54. Winter M, Macgregor F, Shackman L (eds) (2005) Scottish road network landslide study. The Scottish Executive, EdinburghGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© British Geological Survey - NERC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Foster
    • 1
  • C. V. L. Pennington
    • 1
  • M. G. Culshaw
    • 1
    • 2
  • K. Lawrie
    • 3
  1. 1.British Geological Survey, KeyworthNottinghamUK
  2. 2.School of Civil EngineeringUniversity of Birmingham, EdgbastonBirminghamUK
  3. 3.British Geological SurveyEdinburghUK

Personalised recommendations