Ramblings about what I encounter within the realm of the geosciences, as well as the occasional rant about nonsense.

10 March 2009

Riding the Storm: Landslides and the Real World

You might have noticed it getting a bit sparse around ITV of late. There are multiple reasons: fighting a devious virus, working on making my figures comprehensible, finishing another draft of the damnable tome (just turned it in. As the kids say, w00t!1!), and keeping up with readings. In other words, I got blindsided by the real world.

One of the cool things I received at the last GSA annual meeting was a copy of the USGS' latest documentary on landslides. It is called "Riding the Storm". I highly recommend this movie. It focuses on two landslide events in California, along with a brief description of what is the cause of landslides. The video covers swift debris flows and slower deepseated slides.

The swift slide is represented by the Love Creek Slide in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It relates the stories of several of the survivors and how they are coping with landslide danger. The common theme is that none of the families expected a landslide.

It also covers a small community being slowly torn apart by a deepseated slide. Most of the families are now the proud owners of worthless homes and have since been forced to move. The government (through FEMA) have helped cushion the financial impact, but the community was still destroyed as the result of insufficient comprehension of earth's processes.

By and large it is an excellent introduction for students into landslides and their impacts. Hopefully, it imparts an understanding to the lay public that geology does not have to happen slowly and they live on the surface of a highly dynamic planet.

My only complaint with the movie is a very brief aside by one of the individuals who helped with landslided mitigation after the Love Creek Slide occured. He made the statement that the landslide happened so fast that the animals weren't even able to sense it was coming. He was making a reference to precognition in animals. I am surprised at high widespread this nonsense has become. I have even heard of a professor use it as an example in a class I TA'd for (I had to keep giving credit for animal precognition as a sign of a potential natural event, though I would always add the note "there is no evidence for this, but okay since the prof. used it in lecture). But this is the topic for another rant.

If you want to view the movie yourself, it is available for download here. I highly recommend it. Plus, at a little under an hour, it makes for a good substitute lecture should anybody need it.

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Disclaimer

All the Latin on this page is from my vague recollections from High School. There are mistakes in the text. I just was trying to get the point across

Between Los Alamos,NM and White Rock, NM

Between Los Alamos,NM and White Rock, NM
The photo of the travertine spring was taken in the small opening in the center of the image.

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