Abstract

When a destructive landslide happens, geologists may be recruited to be part of the team carrying out the emergency response. An emergency response situation requires geologists to quickly acquire needed geologic information during an intense and stressful assignment. There are five significant operational approaches that are essential to ensure success in this situation. First, the geologists should fully understand and remain focused on the objectives of the response mission. Second, the landslide area must be accessed safely when collecting needed data. From a team standpoint, an injury negatively affects available data and time. Third, the landslide information that is developed must be reliable within the context of the mission and be obtainable within a limited time. Fourth, given the constraints on data collection imposed by an emergency response situation, the degree of uncertainty associated with the findings will need to be explained to ensure subsequent decision-making is done on a sound basis. Fifth, the information needs to be communicated to different audiences, who will range from individual team members to groups of people affected by the landslide. Whether providing documentation or making a presentation, the geologist will need to engage them by explaining the landslide information so it speaks to their needs. Experience gained serving on teams for a huge landslide damming a river in Dominica, West Indies, in 1997 and a large rock slide that buried a major highway in California in 2006 illustrate these important aspects for ensuring success when investigating landslides during an emergency response.

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