Mass Wasting: An Overview

  • S. P. PradhanEmail author
  • Tariq Siddique
Part of the Advances in Natural and Technological Hazards Research book series (NTHR, volume 50)


Mass wasting is a natural phenomenon by which rock, soil and/or debris move downwards due to the action of gravity. It describes all the processes that act continuously with varied intensity on all type of slopes to lower the ground surface. The mass wasting process is controlled by the interaction of geological agents and processes with the geo-materials. The degree and type of movements depend upon a few aspects of geology, environment, geomorphology, hydrology, and some additional environmental stress factors, including biotic factors. It is more active in hilly regions like Himalayas, Western Ghats, Alps, and some other extensive mountain chains of the world. Sometimes it becomes disastrous to lives, property and economy. This chapter gives an overview of mass wasting processes and its classification. Some widely used mass movement classification schemes have been documented.


Mass wasting Landslides Slope failures Natural hazards 


  1. 1.
    Burda J, Zizka L, Dohnal J (2011) Monitoring of recent mass movement activity in anthropogenic slopes of the Kruˇsn’eHory Mountains (Czech Republic). Nat Haz Ear Syst Sci 11:1463–1473CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    ElverhØi A, Blasio FVD, Butt FA et al (2002) Submarine mass wasting on glacially-influenced continental slopes: processes and dynamics. In: Dowdeswell, JA, Cofaigh C (eds) Influenced sedimentation on high latitude continental margins. Geological Society of London, Special publication, vol 203, pp 73–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bolt BA (1975) Landslide hazard. Geological Hazard, Springer, New York, p 150Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Varnes DJ (1984) Landslide hazard zonation: a review of principles and practice. Unesco, ParisGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Brusden D (1984) Mudslides. In: Brusden D, Prior D (eds) Slope instability. Wiley, Chichester, pp 363–418Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Crozier M (1986) Landslides-causes, consequences and environment. Croom Helm Ltd, London, pp 0.7097–0.7099Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Hutchinson JN (1988) Mass movement. In: Fairbridge R (ed) The Encycl of Geomorp. Reinold, pp 688–695Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Cruden D (1991) A simple definition of a landslide. Bull Int Assoc Eng Geol 43:27–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Cruden DM, Varnes DJ (1996) Landslide types and processes. Special report, transportation research board. Nat Acad Sci 247:36–75Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Shroder JF, Finkel RC, Kamp U (2011) The role of mass movements on landscape evolution in central Karakoram: discussion and speculation. Quat Intern 236(1–2):34–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Schuster RL, Fleming RW (1986) Economic losses and fatalities due to landslides. Bul Am Assoc Eng Geol 23(1):11–28Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Swanston DN, Schuster RL (1989) Long-term landslide hazard mitigation programs: structure and experience from other countries. Bul Am Assoc Eng Geol 26(1):109–113Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Glade T (1998) Establishing the frequency and magnitude of landslide-triggering rainstorm events in New Zealand. Environ Geol 35:2–3CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Rotaru A, Oajdea D, Raileanu P (2007) Analysis of the landslide movements. Int J Geol 1(3):71–79Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Scheidegger AE (1984) A review of recent work on mass movements on slopes and on rock falls. Ear Sci Rev 21(4):225–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Keller EA (2000) Environmental geology, 8th edn. Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle RiverGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Aleotti P, Chowdhury R (1999) Landslide hazard assessment: summary review and new perspectives. Bull Eng Geol Environ 58:21–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Zaki A, Chai HK, Razak HA, Shiotani T (2014) Monitoring and evaluating the stability of soil slopes: a review on various available methods and feasibility of acoustic emission technique. Comp Ren Geosci 346:223–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Savvaidis PD (2003) Existing landslide monitoring system and techniques. School of rural and surveying engineering. The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, pp 242–258Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Pardeshi SD, Autade SE, Pardeshi SS (2013) Landslide hazard assessment: recent trends and techniques. Springer Publ 2:523CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Jagtap KR, Aware SP (2015) Landslide pre-warning system based on wireless sensor network using zigbee-A review. Int conf on techn for sustain-Eng infor tech, manage and the environ, Faridabad, India. ISBN: 978-81-931039-7-5Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Highland LM, Bobrowsky P (2008) The landslide handbook-A guide to understanding landslides, vol 1325. U.S. Geological Survey Circular, Reston. 129pGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Baltzer A (1875) Uberbergstürze in den Alpen. Verlag der Schabelitz’schenbuchhandlung (C. Schmidt), Zurich, 50pGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Stini J (1910) Die Muren. Verlag der Wagner’shen Universitätsbuchhandlung, Innsbruck (Debris flows, English translation by M. Jakob and N. Skermer, 1997, EBA Engineering Consultants, Vancouver, Canada, 106pGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Sharpe CFS (1938) Landslides and related phenomena. Columbia University Press, New York. 1370pGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Savage CN (1951) Mass-wasting, classification and damage in Ohio. Ohio J Sci 51(6):299–308Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Varnes DJ (1954) Landslide types and processes. In: Eckel EB (ed) Landslides and engineering practice, special report 28. Highway Research Board. National Academy of Science, Washington, DC, pp 20–47Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Varnes DJ (1978) Slope movement types and processes. In: Schuster RL, Krizek RJ (eds) Landslides, analysis and control, special report 176: transportation research board. National Academy of Science, Washington, DC, pp 11–33Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Hutchinson JN (1968) Mass movement. In: Fairbridge RW (ed) Encyc of geomorph. Reinhold Publishers, New York, pp 688–695CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Sassa K (1999) Introduction. In: Sassa K (ed) Landslides of the world. Kyoto University Press, Kyoto, pp 3–18Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Hungr O, Leroueil S, Picarelli L (2014) The Varnes classification of landslide types, an update. Landslides 11:167–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    International Geotechnical Society’s UNESCO Working Party on World Landslide Inventory (WP/WLI) (1991) A suggested method for a landslide summary. Bull Int Assoc Eng Geol 43:101–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    International Geotechnical Society’s UNESCO Working Party on World Landslide Inventory (WP/WLI) (1993) A suggested method for describing the activity of a landslide. Bull Int Assoc Eng Geol 47:53–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Carson MA, Kirkby MJ (1972) Hillslope forms and processes. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Hungr O, Evans SG, Bovis M et al (2001) Review of the classification of landslides of the flow type. Environ Eng Geosci VII:221–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Goodman RE (1989) Introduction to rock mechanics. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Eberhardt E, Preisig G, Giscchig V (2016) Progressive failure in deep-seated rockslides due to seasonal fluctuations in pore pressures and rock mass fatigue. In: Aversa et al (eds) Landslides and engineered slopes. Experience, theory and practice. Asso Geot Ital, RomeGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Chang KT, Ge L, Lin H (2015) Slope creep behavior: observations and simulations. Eniron Ear Sci 73(1):275–287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Rawat KT, Joshi V, Rawat BS et al (2011) Landslide movement monitoring using GPS technology: a case study of Bakthang landslide, Gangtok, East Sikkim, India. J Dev Agric Eco 3(5):194–200Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Wangensteen B, Guðmundsson A, Eiken T et al (2006) Surface displacements and surface age estimates for creeping slope landforms in Northern and Eastern Iceland using digital photogrammetry. Geomorphology 80:59–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Terzaghi K (1950) Mechanisms of landslides. Geological Society of America, Berkley, pp 83–123Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Calcaterra D, Parise M (2010) Weathering as a predisposing factor to slope movements: an introduction. Geological Society of London, London, Engineering Geology Special Publications 23:1–4CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Jaboyedoff M, Baillifard F, Bardou E et al (2004) The effect of weathering on Alpine rock instability. Q J Eng Geol Hydrol 37:95–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Stoffel M, Tiranti D, Huggel C (2014) Climate change impacts on mass movements – case studies from the European Alps. Sci Tot Environ 493:1255–1266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Popescu ME (1994) A suggested method for reporting landslide causes. Bull Int Assoc Eng Geol 50:71–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Fort M, Cossart E, Deline P et al (2009) Geomorphic impacts of large and rapid mass movements: a review. Geomorph Relief Proc Environ 1:47–63Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Guzzetti F, Carrara A, Cardinali M et al (1999) Landslide hazard evaluation: an aid to a sustainable development. Geomorphology 31:181–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Wieczorek GF, Snyder JB (2009) Monitoring slope movements. Geol Soc Am:245–271Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesIIT RoorkeeRoorkeeIndia
  2. 2.Department of GeologyAligarh Muslim UniversityAligarhIndia

Personalised recommendations