Encyclopedia of Planetary Landforms

2015 Edition
| Editors: Henrik Hargitai, Ákos Kereszturi

Mass Wasting

  • Jessica Watkins
  • Henrik Hargitai
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-3134-3_227


A broad class of features formed by the movement of rock or debris (on Earth, soil) downslope controlled by gravity. Transport of rock or debris by a transporting medium (e.g., wind, water, ice) is not included (e.g.,  aeolian deposits;  distributary system deposits), but flows with high fluid content where the pore fluid mediates (but does not completely dominate) grain-to-grain interactions are included in this category.

Note: The term “landslide” in the strict sense refers to sliding movements only ( slide) and this is how we have generally used it within this section. However, in a broader sense – as proposed by IAEG (1990) – it is defined as “the movement of a mass of rock, debris, or earth (soil) down a slope (under the influence of gravity).”



Feature morphology can most simply be divided into a source region (zone of erosion) and a deposit (zone of accumulation). Sometimes these two...
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.NASA Ames Research Center/NPPMoffett FieldUSA