A natural occurrence that will become more and more prevalent in the upcoming months is a mudslide. Mudslides are also called landslides, mud flows, and flow slides.
The cause of this event is heavy rains, melted snow and ice, over-topping, and high levels of flooded ground water interacting with the stability of the upper layers of soil and greenery by essentially creating a slurry of the soil and allowing gravity to do its thing.
The consistency of the mudslide can vary from predominantly watery to thick debris filled mud, all dependent on the conditions afforded to this natural disaster. Due to the fact that an overabundance of water acts as the catalyst of the event, the onslaught behaves as if it were simply flood waters, with no concern for what it takes along with it.
Oftentimes, when you think of water, you think of a peaceful pond or the flow of a stream, but bear in mind that waterfalls are created by water eroding rock, hail that falls can crack man-made structures open, and a flood can uproot a 150 year old tree. It’s hard to believe that water can do such damage, but that’s just what nature represents- beauty and danger. Water in all forms once it’s become a heavy flow is a force to be reckoned with.
When referencing large mudslides, the terms often used are scarp (the origins of the mudslide) and toe (the final point affect by the mudslide), but there is also a shelf or shelves (low-points where the mudslide was descending but the force of it allowed it to climb back upward). Most frequently, when we think of a mudslide, we imagine it’s simply “Down the hill/mountain” but with the ever-building power of the flow, it is more than capable of climbing back up and building momentum for more debris build up and damage when it goes back down.
Once a warning is issued, the best thing to do is seek shelter at high ground and stay out of the way, because this isn’t a safe battle and Mother Nature does not like to lose. And if flooding becomes an issue caused by the mudslide, cofferdams may help as a cost effective solution.