Honors 101 - Science and the Public Good
Course Syllabus Course Schedule Assignments Department Home Page

Kusnick Home Page


On Sept. 30, you will show me the answers to the questions for Task 1, and will hand in your answer to Task 2.


1. The links below should take you straight to the information we need. If you want to read more about landslides, you can find a complete list of Fact Sheets on landslides at (scroll down the page to the fact sheets): http://landslides.usgs.gov/learning/publications.php#factsheets

Download each of these Fact Sheets and answer the questions for each:

A. FS 2004-3072 Landslide Types and Processes

What are the differences between a slide and a flow?



Of the different types of flow, which are rapid and catastrophic (and therefore the ones we worry about the most)?


What are the three most important natural causes of landslides?



How do humans help cause landslides (be sure to pay attention to the third paragraph on the first page as well as the list on the second page)?



B. FS 2005-3107 Southern California Landslides — An Overview and

FS 2005-3106 Southern California — Wildfires and Debris Flow

Why is Southern California especially prone to landslides?



What conditions create debris flows?



How do wildfires increase the risk of debris flows? What areas are most susceptible to this hazard?



How do humans help induce landslides in Southern California?



C. Various videos to watch if you choose:

Afghanistan debris flow (it goes on for a while, but a minute or so gives you the idea)

Japanese landslide (this one is utterly amazing)

Devore, California

Long (8 min.) but amazing (though grainy) video of 1978 collapse of a quick clay in Rissa, Norway

1997 debris flow at Mt. Shasta


2. Response Paper: La Conchita. Type up an answer to the question below and bring to class on Sept. 20.

Download and read this document: Landslide Hazards at La Conchita, California

Read the article and watch a CBS News clip s. The last 2 minutes are of an unrelated flood - ignore this.

Lawsuit: Ventura County Star: 9/9/08, 9/18/08

Ten people died at La Conchita in 2005, including a family of four little girls. Residents filed suit against several players in the La Conchita story, including the county (for allowing residents to live there) and the ranch above the community (for irrigating the hillside). Somewhat ironically, the residents were awarded the land holdings of the ranch to settle the case - they now own the unstable land above their houses. Where would you place the blame for the loss of life and property? Do the residents have a legitimate claim for damages?