Landslides and Debris Flows in the California Central Coast Region

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Landslides are a characterized as the falling or movement of soil or rock down a slope and can manifest through mudflows, mudslides, debris flows, rock falls, rockslides, debris avalanches, debris slides, and slump-earth flows.[1] This movement occurs when the down-slope force exceeds the strength of the soil or other material holding the slope together.[2] Typically, landslides take time to initiate movement as the soil saturates and ultimately moves at a slow pace, but can cause significant damage to buildings and other infrastructure. [3] Debris flows, a type of landslide, occur suddenly with shorter and intense rainfall creating a slurry that moves at a rapid pace and often can result in loss of life making them more dangerous.[3]

In the United States, landslides are an extremely destructive hazard. Landslides in the country cause approximately $3.5 billion in damage, and kill between 25 and 50 people annually.[4] On a more local scale, landslides are one of the most costly geologic hazards in Monterey County, costing millions of dollars yearly in infrastructure.[5] Surrounding Monterey, many other regions are prone to landslides. Along the coast, between Point Lobos and Capoforo Creek, 1,500 landslides were mapped in 2001 which indicated slope-failure is common.[6]



Wildfire and Vegetation



Prediction and Mitigation

Major Events


  1. Monterey County Office of Emergency Services
  2. USGS Natural Hazards
  3. 3.0 3.1 California Department of Conservation
  4. USGS Landslide Types and Processes Fact Sheet
  5. Geoogic Resources and Constraints in Monterey County: A Technical Report
  6. CCoWS Physical and Hydrologic Assessment of the Carmel River Watershed