16 December 2022

Fifteen years of the Landslide Blog

Posted by Dave Petley

Fifteen years of the Landslide Blog

Today marks the 15th anniversary of my first post to the Landslide Blog.  I find it hard to believe that it has been so long.  My first post was on 16 December 2007, when I posted about the La Honda landslide in California (see image below), based on a field visit with Nick Rosser, who was working with me as a post-doctoral researcher at Durham University (Nick is now a professor at Durham).  Today’s post is number 2,470 on this blog, which works out at about 164 per year.  The blog started out on blogger but after a few years moved over to the AGU Blogosphere.  I have been hugely honored to have been hosted by the AGU, who have been immensely generous to me.

My first ever blog post, 15 years ago

My first ever blog post, 15 years ago


The site still receives around 1,000 individual visits per day on average, although this fluctuates greatly.  It has evolved with time – my posts tend to be a little longer now, and I benefit greatly from the support of many people around the world who provide information about landslides in their domain.  I’m not always able to respond as much as I would like, but thank you to you all.

Over the years I have focused on some specific landslide events – in 2008 for example I wrote a great deal about the Wenchuan Earthquake, in 2010 about the Attabad landslide.  I have developed some recurring themes – tailings dam failures, the rapidly evolving ability of satellites to allow rapid assessment of failures, landslides associated with major dams, and the horror of mining landslides, especially in Myanmar, for example.

Along the way I have only really had two bad experiences, both of which have been associated with senior and well-respected landslide scientists.  Whilst those interactions were shocking and disturbing in many ways, the rest of my interactions have been a huge pleasure and a privilege.

Over the 15 years of this blog my day job has changed hugely.  At the start I was a Professor at Durham University, and in the later stages I was also Dean of Research there.  In 2014 I moved to become Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) at UEA, then in 2016 I became Vice-President (Research and Innovation) at the University of Sheffield.  In September 2022 I moved again, to become Vice-Chancellor at the University of Hull, which is my role today.  The blog has been a constant through this period, and has allowed m to remain rooted to my discipline.

Even with my current somewhat busy schedule I plan to maintain the blog, even as many others that started at the same time have fallen away.  I write it very early in the morning, at the start of my day, as a way to get my brain in gear.  I hugely appreciate spending time thinking about my research focus, even though I rarely have time for research itself.  Of course my pieces on individual events are only ever an initial take; the definitive accounts result from detailed studies by others, and must always be seen as being more important.

I write about things that interest me, making the topics somewhat eclectic.  I’m constantly amazed and delighted that others find them to be of interest.  I will continue to do so if and when I can.

So, finally, thanks to you all for the last 15 years, and thanks in particular to the AGU, to LarryO’, to Planet Labs and to many others for your kind help.