Field-based landslide risk of deep-seated landslides reactivating based on changes in infrastructure: an example from Kelso, Washington, 2014.

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 5:30 PM
Scott F Burns, Portland State University, Geology Dept, Portland, OR, United States
Large, deep-seated landslides always have the potential to reactivate in the future – generally locally and not the whole slide. How does one determine if one of these large landslides has reactivated if there are houses on it? In April of 2014 a 25 year old house was investigated to see if it was creeping on an ancient landslide near Kelso, Washington. In 1998 we had worked on nearby prehistoric slides to determine if they had reactivated. We developed a list of 17 points to investigate on a lot and in a house that showed that stress was causing movement. Inside the house we checked for: propagation of cracks in the walls, nails popping out of the walls, bulging walls, separation of internal and external chimney from walls, creaking and popping noises in the house, light switches coming out of the walls, doors and windows that are hard to shut, twisted ceiling and floor beams, cracks in concrete floors, and water seeping into the basement. On the lot outside we looked for changes in surface water drainage, bulges in retaining walls, scarps developing in the soils, pistol butt trees, and broken sewage and water lines. A stable site is defined as a site having none of the above characteristics. Slight movement is defined as having 1-5 of the above characteristics. Moderate movement is from 6 to 10 and considerable movement is from 11+. The house we investigated had a score of 14 – definitely was moving! It had had two electrical fires in the past year from severed electrical wires. We recommend that areas of slight movement be monitored, and lots with moderate to considerable movement to be dewatered to slow the movement. If engineering geologists know that movement has started early enough, proper mitigation can be installed that might stop the movement and save the homes.