Seismic network detects landslides on broad area scale

Oct 09, 2013

From 1999 to 2006, Taiwan's Chenyoulan watershed experienced 48,000 landslides, rock avalanches, and other geomorphic events, the bulk of which are thought to be triggered by the powerful tropical cyclones that batter the island each summer. Rock slides and other geomorphic events are a natural hazard, but they're also the source for some of the raw sediment that ends up winding its way downstream, affecting watershed erosion and sedimentation dynamics. From both of these perspectives, having a handle on when and where these geomorphic events occur is important. However, the main method used to track landslides—optical satellite observations—has a low temporal resolution, has trouble discerning new activity at previously affected sites, and struggles to see through clouds or dense canopy cover. Using 14 seismic sensors installed from July to September 2010, Burtin et al. studied the skill of their network in detecting geomorphic activity in the Chenyoulan watershed.

The authors detected 314 separate geomorphic events during their study period. Using their moderately dense network of , the authors located the geographic source of each event, and a manual analysis let them categorize the cause of the signal. Different types of geomorphic events produce seismic signals with different shapes. Comparing their observations with rainfall records, they find that 69 percent of the events coincided with storms, with the timing of the landslide or other event often occurring during the period of peak precipitation. Tracking the source of the , they find that 61 percent of the events occurred at sites of previous geomorphic events.

The authors note that their seismic network approach still needs work, but that when fully developed, it could provide a means to automatically assess the occurrence, cause, and type of geomorphic events.

Explore further: Advancing the state-of-the-art in seismic science

More information: Burtin, A. et al. Continuous catchment-scale monitoring of geomorphic processes with a 2-D seismological array, Journal of Geophysical Research-Earth Surface. DOI: 10.1002/jgrf.20137, 2013

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers develop a way to remotely detect landslides

Mar 22, 2013

( —Seismologists from Columbia University in New York have developed a way to detect landslides using a combination of seismic data and data collected from satellite images. The technique can be ...

Seismic diagrams identify rock-falls

Dec 07, 2011

( -- Based on the statistical analysis of 20 rock-falls in the Alps and the seismic signals recorded at the same time, ETH Zurich scientists have developed a new method allowing the volume and ...

Deadly Mine 'Bump' was Recorded as Seismic Event

Aug 17, 2007

The University of Utah Seismograph Stations recorded a magnitude-1.6 seismic event at the time of a Thursday, Aug. 16 "bump" that killed and injured rescuers at a Utah coal mine where six miners were trapped by an Aug. 6 ...

Special paper defines the nature, aim of paleoseismology

Aug 04, 2011

How is paleoseismology defined and what is its main aim? Is it concerned only with prehistoric earthquakes identified and characterized from the “geo-archives” of a particular location or fault, or can it be applied ...

Recommended for you

Tropical Storm Rachel dwarfed by developing system 90E

2 hours ago

Tropical Storm Rachel is spinning down west of Mexico's Baja California, and another tropical low pressure area developing off the coast of southwestern Mexico dwarfs the tropical storm. NOAA's GOES-West ...

NASA ocean data shows 'climate dance' of plankton

5 hours ago

The greens and blues of the ocean color from NASA satellite data have provided new insights into how climate and ecosystem processes affect the growth cycles of phytoplankton—microscopic aquatic plants ...

Glaciers in the grand canyon of Mars?

6 hours ago

For decades, planetary geologists have speculated that glaciers might once have crept through Valles Marineris, the 2000-mile-long chasm that constitutes the Grand Canyon of Mars. Using satellite images, ...

NASA support key to glacier mapping efforts

6 hours ago

Thanks in part to support from NASA and the National Science Foundation, scientists have produced the first-ever detailed maps of bedrock beneath glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica. This new data will help ...

User comments : 0