16 August 2012

Global patterns of loss of life from landslides – my new paper in the journal Geology

Posted by Dave Petley

The journal Geology has placed online a paper that I have written detailing the global cost of landslides worldwide.  This is the definitive paper (so far) describing the results of my research over the last decade (I started on 1st September 2002, so am nearly at the tenth anniversary).  Ironically, it is likely that today the total number of  in the database, excluding landslides caused by earthquakes, will reach 40,000.

For copyright reasons I am not allowed to publish the paper online, but the publisher’s website for the paper is here.  I have also placed some resources regarding the paper on our FTP site (if the link does not work try this address: ftp://topdog.dur.ac.uk/dnp/geology/ – WordPress seems to mangle the ftp address for some reason), and I am allowed to email a copy of the paper to you (so feel free to email me on: [email protected]

Anyway, this paper covers the period 2004-2010 (i.e. seven full years), and focuses on landslides caused by non-seismic processes (i.e. earthquakes are excluded).  In that period, I have recorded 32,322 deaths in 2,620 landslides.  This is about an order of magnitude more than previous records had suggested.  The dataset includes a map of the fatalities, which indicates where the global hotspots lie. I have produced a colour versions:

There is a high-resolution image of the on the FTP site for you to download as both a TIF and a JPEG.

The global hotspots that emerge for landslides are as follows:

  • Along the southern edge of the Himalayan Arc
  • Along the coast of southwest India and in Sri Lanka
  • Along the southern and eastern coastal regions of China, extending inland ~100 km
  • In central China, most notably in the mountains surrounding the Sichuan Basin
  • In the mountain chains along the western edge of the Philippine Sea plate
  • In the central Caribbean islands
  • In a chain that follows the mountains of Central America and South America from Mexico in the north to northern Chile in the south
  • In Indonesia, most notably in and around the island of Java

Not in the paper, but I have determined the number of landslides occurring in each of the key landslide countries worldwide.  Remember that this data is for non-seismic landslides, and that it covers the period 2004-2010 inclusive:

Country Number of deaths in 2004-2010 Number of landslides in 2004-2010
Afghanistan 67 9
Bangladesh 302 58
Bhutan 50 18
Brazil 823 88
China 6860 353
Colombia 564 68
Dominican Republic 46 10
Ecuador 48 8
El Salvador 197 18
Guatemala 2001 45
Haiti 4475 22
Honduras 52 12
India 2415 393
Indonesia 2078 164
Italy 67 14
Jamaica 20 10
Japan 147 70
Kenya 72 15
Malaysia 53 29
Mexico 318 53
Burma 211 12
Nepal 809 211
Pakistan 1023 102
Papua New Guinea 105 13
Peru 313 29
Philippines 4583 226
Portugal 70 8
South Africa 12 8
South Korea 74 16
Spain 15 12
Sri Lanka 81 21
Taiwan 693 44
Tajikistan 75 16
Thailand 134 20
Turkey 85 22
Uganda 408 15
USA 64 42
Venezuela 63 23
Vietnam 528 76
Yemen 121 9