Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-9213-9_144-1


A geomorphic process in which the debris units (which can vary widely in size and composition) are transported to their deposition location under only the influence of gravity. No medium transports the material, so the debris units undergo downward motion via free falling, rolling or bouncing on the surface; if there is a horizontal component of velocity, the units will move in ballistic trajectories. Falls may take place on bodies with or without an atmosphere. Each fragment may interact with the slope in periodic collisions, but there is no significant interaction between fragments.


A type of mass wasting



Falls entail a free-falling phase over at least part of the material’s trajectory. For example, it may involve spontaneous movement of regolith down a steep slope such as a cliff, due to physical erosion such as undercutting of a slope by waves, flows, human and animal action, freeze-thaw action, seismic activity, or...


Rock Avalanche Tephra Fall Talus Cone Saltate Sand Impact Ejecta 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Barlow NG, Boyce JM, Costard FM, Craddock RA, Garvin JB, Sakimoto SEH, Kuzmin RO, Roddy DJ, Soderblom LA (2000) Standardizing the nomenclature of Martian impact crater ejecta morphologies. J Geophys Res 105(E11):26733–26738CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Basilevsky AT, Head JW, Abdrakhimov AM (2004) Impact crater air fall deposits on the surface of Venus: areal distribution, estimated thickness, recognition in surface panoramas, and implications for provenance of sampled surface materials. J Geophys Res 109:E12003. doi:10.1029/2004JE002307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bonadonna C, Houghton BF (2005) Total grain-size distribution and volume of tephra-fall deposits. Bull Volcanol 67(5):441–456CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bulmer MH (1994) Small volcanoes in the plains of Venus: with particular reference to the evolution of domes. PhD thesis, University of London, Senate House, 1999Google Scholar
  5. Bulmer MH (1998) Comparisons between mass movements on Venus associated with Modified Domes and those from Escarpments. Lunar Planet Sci XXVII:1812, HoustonGoogle Scholar
  6. Bulmer MH (2012) Landslides on other planets. In: Clague JJ, Stead D (eds) Part 1. landslide types and mechanisms. Types, mechanisms, and modeling. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 393–408. ISBN: 9781107002067Google Scholar
  7. Bulmer MH, Guest JE (1996) Modified volcanic domes and associated debris aprons on Venus. In:McQuire WJ, Jones AP, Neuberg J (eds) Volcano instability on the Earth and other planets, Geological Society special publication 110. Geological Society, London, pp 349–371Google Scholar
  8. Bulmer MH, Zimmerman BA (2005) Reassessing landslide deformation in Ganges Chasma. Mars Geophys Res Lett 32:L06201. doi:10.1029/2004GL022021CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Collins BD, Stock GM (2012) Lidar-based rock-fall hazard characterization of cliffs. GeoCongress 2012 American Society of Civil Engineers, Oakland, California, pp 3021–3030Google Scholar
  10. Cruden DM, Varnes DJ (1996) Landslide types and processes. In: Turner AT, Schuster RL (eds) Landslides – investigation and mitigation. Transportation research board special report no. 247. National Academy Press, Washington, DC, pp 36–75Google Scholar
  11. Daubar IJ, McEwen AS, Byrne S, Dundas CM, Keska AL, Amaya GL, Kennedy M, Robinson MS (2011) New Craters on Mars and the Moon. Lunar Planet Sci Conf Abstract 42:2232Google Scholar
  12. Dundas CM, McEwen AS (2007) Rays and secondary craters of Tycho. Icarus 186(1):31–40. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2006.08.011CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fell R, Hungr O, Leroueil S, Riemer W (2000) Keynote paper – geotechnical engineering of the stability of natural slopes and cuts and fills in soil. Procs, GeoEng2000, international conference on geotechnical and geological engineering, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  14. Flageollett JC, Weber D (1996) Fall. In: Dikau R, Brunsden D, Schrott L, Ibsen M-L (eds) Landslide recognition: identification, movement and courses. Wiley, Chichester, pp 13–28Google Scholar
  15. Hauber E, van Gasselt S, Chapman MG, Neukum G (2008) Geomorphic evidence for former lobate debris aprons at low latitudes on Mars: indicators of the Martian paleoclimate. J Geophys Res 113:E02007. doi:10.1029/2007JE002897Google Scholar
  16. Herkenhoff KE, Byrne S, Milkovich SM, Russell PS and the HiRISE Science Team (2012) MRO HiRISE observations of recent phenomena in the north polar region of Mars. Mars recent climate change workshop, Moffett FieldGoogle Scholar
  17. Highland LM, Bobrowsky P (2008) The landslide handbook – a guide to understanding landslides. USGS circular 1325. U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VirginiaGoogle Scholar
  18. Hsu KJ (1975) Catastrophic debris streams (Sturzstroms) generated by rockfalls. Geol Soc Am Bull 86:128–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hungr O, Evans SG, Bovis M, Hutchinson JN (2001) Review of the classification of landslides of the flow type. Environ Eng Geosci VII:221–238Google Scholar
  20. Hunter RE (1977) Basic types of stratification in small eolian dunes. Sedimentology 24:361–387CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Malin MC (1992) Mass movements on Venus: preliminary results from the Magellan cycle 1 observations. J Geophys Res 97(E10):16337–16352. doi:10.1029/92JE01343CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. McEwen AS, Preblich BS, Turtle EP, Atemiava NA, Golombek MP, Hurst M, Kirk RL, Burr DM, Christensen PR (2005) The rayed crater Zunil and interpretations of small impact craters on Mars. Icarus 176:351–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. McGovern PJ, Smith JR, Morgan JK, Bulmer MH (2004) Olympus Mons aureole deposits: new evidence for a flank failure origin. J Geophys Res 109:E08008. doi:10.1029/2004JE002258Google Scholar
  24. Mouginis-Mark PJ, Garbeil H (2007) Crater geometry and ejecta thickness of the Martian impact crater tooting. Meteor Planet Sci 42(9):1615–1625CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mouginis-Mark PJ, Wilson L, Head JW III (1982) Explosive volcanism on Hecates Tholus, Mars: investigation of eruption conditions. J Geophys Res 87(B12):9890–9904CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. O’Keefe JD, Ahrens TJ (1976) Impact ejecta on the Moon. Proc Lunar Sci Conf 7:3007–3025Google Scholar
  27. Richard SM, Matti J, Soller DR (2003) Geoscience terminology development for the National Geologic Map Database. In: Soller DR (ed), Digital mapping techniques ‘03 – workshop proceedings: U.S. geological survey open-file report 03-471. pp 157–168, http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2003/of03-471/richard1/
  28. Roberts GP, Matthews B, Bristow C, Guerrieri L, Vetterlein J (2012) Possible evidence of paleomarsquakes from fallen boulder populations, Cerberus Fossae, Mars. J Geophys Res 117:E02009Google Scholar
  29. Rosser N, Dunning SA, Lim M, Petley DN (2005) Terrestrial laser scanning for quantitative rockfall hazard assessment. In: Hungr O, Fell R, Couture R, Eberhardt E (eds) Landslide risk management. Balkema, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  30. Rosser NJ, Lim M, Petley DN, Dunning S, Allison RJ (2007) Patterns of precursory rockfall prior to slope failure. J Geophys Res Earth Surface 112:F04014CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Russell P, Thomas N, Byrne S, Herkenhoff K, Fishbaugh K, Bridges N, Okubo C, Milazzo M, Daubar I, Hansen C, McEwen A (2008) Seasonally active frost-dust avalanches on a north polar scarp of Mars captured by HiRISE. Geophys Res Lett 35, CiteID L23204Google Scholar
  32. Russell PS, Byrne S, Dawson LC (2014) Active powder avalanches on the steep north polar scarps of Mars: 4 years of HiRISE observation. 45th Lunar Planet Sci Conf, abstract #2688, HoustonGoogle Scholar
  33. Schenk PM, Bulmer MH (1998) Origin of mountains on Io by thrust faulting and large-scale mass movements. Science 279:1514–1517Google Scholar
  34. Shaller PJ (1991) Analysis and implications of large Martian and terrestrial landslides. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechETD:etd-08112004-132513
  35. Shean DE, Head JW III, Fastook JW, Marchant DR (2007) Recent glaciation at high elevations on Arsia Mons, Mars: implications for the formation and evolution of large tropical mountain glaciers. J Geophys Res 112:E03004. doi:10.1029/2006JE002761Google Scholar
  36. Sigurdsson H, Carey S (1989) Plinian and co-ignimbrite tephra fall from the 1815 eruption of Tambora volcano. Bull Volcanol 51:243–270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Singer NS, McKinnon WB, Schenk PM, Moore JM (2012) Massive ice avalanches on Iapetus mobilized by friction reduction during flash heating. Nature Geosci 5:574–578, Supplementary information 23. doi:10.1038/ngeo1526Google Scholar
  38. Whalley WB (1974) The mechanics of high magnitude low frequency rock failure and its importance in a mountainous area. Geographical papers 27. Reading University, Reading, p 48Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geophysical Flow Observatory Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology with NASA GSFCUniversity of MarylandBaltimore CountyUSA