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Geologists assess landslide risks in CA following heavy rainfall

While California has seen sunnier days, experts say the risk of landslides doesn’t go away when the rain does.

The deeply seeded slides, which don’t happen right as it’s raining, may take several months or even years to happen. California’s relatively new topography means the soil in many areas is still in motion.

“The landslides that have moved recently historically that we know are in general more hazardous than the slides that we don’t think have moved since a long time ago,” said Jonathan Godt, program coordinator for the USGS Landslide Hazards Program.

The program is the first of its kind in the country and has experts like Godt monitoring the recent slides in California.

San Clemente residents like David Boyle worry about the risk of their homes slipping off the bluffs every time it rains.

“We’ve already eroded quite a bit there’s not much left of the bluff,” said Boyle. “So anytime it rains, I wonder is it going to keep going and eventually slip?’”

Boyle believes the bluff beneath his condo has moved about 150 feet in the past four years and that’s just very recent history.

A landslide map from the California Geological Survey shows every recorded landslide with data going back hundreds, even thousands of years.

California is filled with landslides, including the more recent slides that happened in Malibu, Rancho Palos Verdes, Torrance and San Clemente.

Godt says the very landscape that brings us rewards, is the very landscape that causes risks.

“Part of it is the geological history of California,” said Godt. “It’s a place where there are active earthquakes, mountains and climatic conditions where you get the atmospheric rivers that bring really heavy precipitation.”


Source: NBC Los Angeles

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