Recently uplifted, soft Pleistocene sediments in northern New Zealand are particularly vulnerable to landsliding because they are often underlain by less permeable, clay-rich Neogene mudstone/siltstone rocks. Typically, instability is rainfall-induced, often due to a high intensity rainfall event from extra-tropical cyclones, following wetter months when antecedent soil moisture has increased. Using remote sensing, field surveys and laboratory testing, we report on some emerging slope instability hazards in the eastern suburbs of the coastal city of Gisborne, on the North Island. Retrogressive failure of the main landslide (at Wallis Road) is ongoing and has already led to the abandonment of one home, while an adjacent landslide (at Titirangi Drive) appears to be in an incipient phase of failure. The Wallis Road landslide has been particularly active from mid-2017, with slumping of the headscarp area transitioning to a constrained mudflow downslope, which then descends a cliff before terminating on the beach. In contrast, the incipient Titirangi Drive landslide at present displays much more subtle effects of deformation. While activity at both landslides appears to be linked to rainfall-induced increases in soil moisture, this is due to the effects of prolonged periods of rainfall rather than the passage of high intensity cyclonic storms.

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