IntroductionThis handbook is intended to be a resource for people affected by landslides toacquire further knowledge, especially about the conditions that are unique to theirneighborhoods and communities. Considerable literature and research are availableconcerning landslides, but unfortunately little of it is synthesized and integratedto address the geographically unique geologic and climatic conditions around theglobe. Landslides occur throughout the world, under all climatic conditions andterrains, cost billions in monetary losses, and are responsible for thousands of deathsand injuries each year. Often, they cause long-term economic disruption, populationdisplacement, and negative effects on the natural environment.Outdated land-use policies may not always reflect the best planning for use ofland that is vulnerable to landslides. The reasons for poor or nonexistent land-usepolicies that minimize the perceived or actual danger and damage potential fromgeologic hazards are many and encompass the political, cultural, and financial com-plexities and intricacies of communities. Landslides often are characterized as localproblems, but their effects and costs frequently cross local jurisdictions and maybecome State or Provincial or national problems.Growing populations may be limited in their geographic expansion, except tooccupy unstable, steep, or remote areas. Often, stabilizing landslide-scarred areasis too costly, and some inhabitants have no other places to relocate. Fortunately,simple, “low-tech” precautions and actions can be adopted to at least ensure anindividual’s immediate safety, and this handbook gives a brief overview of many ofthese options. We strongly suggest that, where possible, the assistance of profes-sional engineers/geologists or those experienced in the successful mitigation ofunstable slopes be consulted before actions are taken. This handbook helps home-owners, community and emergency managers, and decisionmakers to take thepositive step of encouraging awareness of available options and recourse in regard tolandslide hazard.The Landslide Handbook—A Guide to Understanding LandslidesBy Lynn M. Highland, United States Geological Survey, andPeter Bobrowsky, Geological Survey of Canada
2The Landslide Handbook—A Guide to Understanding LandslidesWe provide a list of references, available in print or on the World Wide Web(Internet), that can be used for further knowledge about landslides. We recommendthis handbook to managers and decisionmakers in communities in the hope thatthe information will be disseminated by such officials to other members of thosecommunities. In response to the differing levels of literacy around the globe, wehave emphasized visual information through the use of photographs and graphics.