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What is Landslide?

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Have you ever seen or heard about the mass movement? Have you noticed the headlines regarding the blockage of some roads due to landslides in mountains? Well, here in this article, we will be talking about this mass movement only. We will learn about landslide meaning, effects of landslide, reasons for landslides, prevention or mitigation, etc. This article will help you to understand very important geographical phenomena i.e. Landslides and its related concepts.

Landslide Definition

The movement of the rocks or debris etc. on a slope downwards is called a landslide. It is a type of "mass wasting " which refers to the movement of any mass, soil, or rocks under the influence of gravity. It is one of the natural hazards and can be a disaster if the damages occur in large amounts.

According to the Oxford learners dictionary, "landslides is a mass of earth, rock, etc. that falls down the slope of a mountain or a cliff ".

Types of Landslides

They can occur because of various reasons. We can classify them into four categories which are mentioned below:

  • Falls Landslides 

It means falling of some material or debris or rocks etc. from a slope or a cliff which leads to a collection of this debris at the base of the slope.

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  • Topple Landslides

These can occur because of some fractures between the rocks and the tilt of the rocks because of gravity without collapsing. Here, we see the forward rotational movement of the material.

  • Slides

It is a kind of landslide when a piece of the rock slides downwards and gets separated from it.

  • Spread

It happens on flat terrain and gentle slopes and can occur because of softer material.

Causes of Landslide

Landslides are caused by various factors which are mentioned below:

  • It can be caused because of heavy rain.

  • Deforestation is also one of the main reasons for landslides because trees, plants, etc. keep the soil particles compact and due to deforestation the mountain slopes lose their protective layers because of which the water of the rain flows with unimpeded speed on these slopes.

  • It can be caused by earthquakes as well. 

For example, in the Himalayas, the tremor occurred because earthquakes unstabilized the mountains which leads to landslides.

  • Volcanic eruptions in specific regions can also cause landslides.

  • Landslides often occur in mountain regions while making roads and construction, a large number of rocks has to be removed which can cause landslides over there.

  • In the regions of North East India, landslides occur because of shifting agriculture.

  • Due to the increasing population, a large number of houses are being created which leads to the creation of a large amount of debris which can cause landslides.

Effects of Landslide

Let us look at the effects of landslide in points:

Land slides can disturb the social and economic environment with the number of other damages which are mentioned below:

Short Term Impacts

  • The natural beauty of the area is damaged.

  • Loss of life and property

  • Roadblocks

  • Destruction of railway lines

  • Channel blocking because of the falling of rocks.

  • It leads to the diversion of river water which can cause floods as well.

Long Term Impacts

  • Landscape changes can be permanent.

  • The loss of fertile land or cultivation land.

  • Erosion and soil loss can lead to environmental problems.

  • Population shifting and migration.

  • Effects on the sources of water.

  • Some roads can be damaged or closed permanently.

Prevention and Mitigation

The following measures can be taken in this regard:

  • The country should identify the vulnerable areas and actions should be taken in this regard on a priority basis.

  • Early warning systems and monitoring systems should be there.

  • Hazard mapping can be done to identify the areas which are more prone to landslides.

  • Restriction on the construction in the risky areas should be imposed.

  • Afforestation programs should take place.

  • Restricting development in landslide areas and protecting the existing ones.

  • The country should specify codes or standards etc. For the construction of the buildings and other purposes in such areas of risk.

  • Insurance facilities should be taken by the people to deal with the loss.

  • Terrace farming should be adopted in hilly areas.

  • Response teams should be quick to deal with landslides if they occur.

Landslides in India

It is one of the natural hazards in India which affects 15% of the geographical area of our country. Due to several factors, India is divided into the following vulnerability zones which are shown in the table below:

Very High Vulnerability Zones

Highly unstable areas, High rainfall, areas prone to earthquakes, and intense human activities. 

Such as the Himalayas, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, North Eastern region, Western Ghats, Nilgiris.

High Vulnerability Zones

The areas of very high Vulnerability Zone are included here as well except the plains of Assam. The difference between the two is their intensity or frequency of various factors.

Moderate - Low Vulnerability Zones

Areas of less precipitation such as Trans Himalayan areas of Ladakh, Spiti of Himachal Pradesh, Aravalli mountains, rain shadow areas of western and eastern ghats, Deccan plateau, etc.

Areas of mining activities such as Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Goa, etc.

Other Areas

It includes the remaining parts of India which are safe from landslides.

Did You Know?

The North India Flood Mudslides that occurred in Kedarnath, India in June 2013 was one of the deadliest landslides in the world. Around 5700 people died in this disaster. It was one of the worst disasters ever occurred in India.


Thus, in this article, we have covered a very important topic namely landslides. We have covered its related concepts like causes, effects, prevention, and mitigation, etc. Hence, it is very important to learn these kinds of topics. These notes will help you in Geography, Environment, and Disaster Management. So, we have read about the landslide information, effects of landslides, etc. Let's look at some FAQs in the following.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Question 1. What is the Meaning of Landslide?

Answer. It is also known as the Mass Movement. The movement of the rocks or debris etc. On a slope downwards is called a landslide. It is a type of " mass wasting " which refers to the movement of any mass, soil, or rocks under the influence of gravity. It is one of the natural hazards and can be a disaster if the damages occur in large amounts. 

Question 2. What are the Causes and Effects of Landslides?

Answer. Landslides are caused because of heavy rains, earthquakes, deforestation, volcanic eruptions, construction of roads, and buildings or houses, etc. It can lead to many short-term and long-term effects on the environment, location, and people. It can lead to loss of property and life. It can damage the natural environment, the transportation or communication facilities can block the roads or railways, affects the rivers, etc.