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This paper reviews the nature and mechanics of landslides in the weathered terrain of Hong Kong. The vast majority of landslides are very shallow (a few metres depth) and occur during intense rainstorms. Deeper-seated landslides, in contrast, may occur days or weeks after intense rainstorms. The time of occurrence of landslides can be linked to hydrological and hydrogeological factors, and a hydrogeological grouping of landslide mechanisms is introduced related to timing in a storm. A relationship is presented that links intensity of landsliding to 24 h rainfall. The gradual deterioration and internal erosion of slopes prior to detachment is discussed and allows some realistic opportunity for identifying progressive major landslides. In particular, the growth of natural piping systems and infilling of dilated fracture networks are recommended as important indicators of landslide development. The conclusions are supported by case examples of slope failures, the study of some of which has been taken to a forensic level.

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