Whenever a landslide occurs, no matter if it is caused by slope saturation with water, seismic activity or a volcanic eruption, the damages are disastrous. Thousands of households may be swept away or buried in mud and tens to hundreds of people could lose their lives.
This apocalyptic image should make local governments pay more attention to the prevention of such natural phenomena. It is important for a local government to know which areas are prone to landslides and take appropriate measures in order to reduce vulnerability to such hazards.
Can the Effects of Landslides Be Reduced?
Vulnerability to landslides depends on location, frequency of landslide events and type of human activity in the area, but there are also other factors that may influence the size and frequency of such phenomena.
The effects on people and buildings can be lessened if hazardous areas are avoided or if activities in such areas are restricted or deployed under certain conditions. Local governments are responsible for land-use policies and other regulations meant to reduce the risks for landslides to take place.
Exposure to hazards may be reduced if individuals educate themselves on the past history of these phenomena. Departments of local governments that are responsible with planning and engineering may help a lot with their advice.
People can also benefit from the professional services of engineering geologists, civil engineers, or geotechnical engineers, all qualified to evaluate the potential of a hazardous site, no matter if built or not built.
Four Actions Meant to Increase Ground Stability and Prevent a Landslide
Landslides hazard can be reduced by avoiding to emplace new constructions on steep slopes or by stabilizing the slopes before beginning the actual construction works. When ground water cannot rise in the landslide mass, stability is increased. To achieve this result, some actions are required:
- Covering the land with impermeable membranes in order to prevent water infiltration in the landslide;
- Directing surface water sources away from the landslides;
- Draining ground water streams away from the landslides;
- Minimizing irrigation on the surface of the soil.
To achieve increased slope stability, it is also useful to remove mass from the top of the slope, so that its weight does not force the layer to slide.
Due to the huge losses that landslides imply, their prevention is of maximum importance for all the people living in the area of hazard. Preventing a landslide from causing material damage and human losses should be a main goal of local authorities.