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Abstract

Slope movements, including types of landslides and extremely slow soil creep (Varnes, 1978), occur throughout the United States and within many national parks. The collection of vital signs of regional landslide information, referred to as monitoring, is not only scientifically useful, but is beneficial for assessment of landslide hazards and risk, which is in turn important for regional operations and planning.

Different types of slope movement, such as fall, topple, slide, spread, and flow, can occur in a variety of materials and degrees of slopes. Specific types of landslides (Fig. 1), such as rockfall, earth slump, and debris flow, can occur depending upon the types of geologic materials and movement (Cruden and Varnes, 1996). A landslide can be caused by one or more of several factors, of which geological, morphological, physical, and human factors are the most common. The term landslide trigger refers specifically to an external stimulus, such as intense rainfall, rapid snowmelt, earthquake, volcanic eruption, or stream or coastal erosion. These stimuli initiate an immediate or near-immediate landslide movement by rapidly increasing shear stresses or porewater pressures, by ground acceleration due to seismic activity, by removing lateral support, by reducing the strength of slope materials, or by initiating debris-flow activity. Most landslides with recognized triggers are caused by precipitation: rainfall, snow meltwater, or combinations of both. In rock masses, rain and meltwater penetrate joints and produce hydrostatic pressures. In soils, the increase of pore-water pressures reduces shear resistance (Schuster and Wieczorek, 2002).

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