Making Sense of Landslide Danger After Kerala’s Floods

Credit: ‘Munnar Tea Plantations’ by www.david on Flikr liscenced under CC BY-ND 2.0

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Scientists traveled to Kerala, a state in India recently devastated by severe monsoon rains. They found a vulnerable population that will soon face fresh landslide risks as a new monsoon approaches.

Every summer, monsoon rains come to southwestern India. This summer, however, the deluge brought the worst flooding in a century.

The resulting destruction killed nearly 500 people, inundated cities, and collapsed bridges. The rains also caused thousands of landslides in mountainous regions after torrents of water loosened soils from hillslopes. These slurries of water, soil, rock, and vegetation overwhelmed villages, downed power lines, and cut some communities off from receiving immediate aid.

Following the disaster, a team of geoscientists traveled to the devastated state of Kerala to survey landslide damage. Their ground survey, which was finished last month, uncovered new insights into what triggered the dangerous slides in the region.

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