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June 22, 2021
Low-displacement landslides explain unusual West Virginia landscape features visible in lidar imagery
Like so many older landslides in the Appalachians, the significance and cause of these features is unknown. Because they are so numerous and are only visible using lidar data acquired in 2016, they may represent an untapped resource of useful information about the recent history of Appalachian landscapes.
March 24, 2021
As indicated in the previous post, lidar-derived imagery still needs ground-truthing to maximize its usefulness as a means of characterizing landslides and other slope failures. Last June, Ken Gillon and I visited the Rutherford County, North Carolina, landslide described below as part of our work with Appalachian Landslide Consultants, PLLC (ALC) on behalf of the North Carolina Geological Survey. This slide caught my eye in lidar hillshade imagery because it appeared to share characteristics with an active slide we had visited a few days before.
March 1, 2021
We have no constraints on the age of the slides, but they may reflect logging history in the area. The majority of these slopes were heavily and continuously logged during the past ~150 years, with logging in this area clearly occurring within the past 50 years. The slides may have developed after clear-cuts, with the rapid return of vegetation common in the region quickly making the area look less disturbed than it really is.
February 24, 2021
Debris flow events present a significant hazard to life and property in all parts of the Appalachians. The 1949 event that created the features shown here caused 8 fatalities and displaced a tremendous number of residents. Detailed mapping…along with analysis of detailed surface imagery, can greatly enhance understanding of where debris flows begin and where they travel. This understanding, in turn, can potentially reduce the human impact of these particularly dynamic and mobile slope failure events.
January 11, 2021
“To the surprise of the drillers and geologists involved with the project, the well bore never got anywhere close to the Cambrian quartzite. At 10,000 ft (3,010 m) below the surface, the well passed through a thrust fault and entered a tight, nearly recumbent syncline cored by the same Ordovician shale unit into which drilling began.”
December 4, 2020
A coal spoil landslide in southeastern Wise County, Virginia, appears traceable to a faint scarp visible in the spoil pile in a 2017 lidar dataset. The slide pre-dates October 2019 Google Earth imagery and post-dates the 2017 lidar data acquisition.
October 5, 2020
A large sandstone blockslide in Highland County, Virginia presents an unusual appearance in LiDAR hillshade imagery–it appears to have moved sideways across a slope instead of directly down the slope.
September 24, 2020
The Virginia Valley and Ridge hosts plenty of amazing landslide features, but this wrinkled translational slide in Botetourt County, Virginia is particuarly eye-catching. It reminds me of the wrinkling that might occur in a thin layer of cloth pushed along a smooth surface–something like pushing a napkin or tablecloth along a tabletop.
August 28, 2020
The sharpness of these landslide features suggests they may still be slowly moving, but very little disruption to vegetation is visible in satellite imagery, so movement is probably very slow. Since their maximum age is known (the time of mining; late 1800s-1920s), they offer interesting comparison to older, natural landslides in the area, which tend to have softened, rounded features due to weathering and erosion.
July 28, 2020
New from The Geo Models: “These anticlines are recognizable as fault-propagation folds because the fault that offsets the deepest blue layer does not cut upward through the entire section. Displacement along the fault at depth is accommodated by folding of the overlying, un-faulted layers.”