mudslide and landslide in California

Credit: Staff Sgt. Cristian Meyer, USAF

As we are all painfully aware, mudslides have been in the news a lot recently, due to the wildfires and torrential rains the state has been experiencing. The deadly mudslide in Montecito recently killed almost two dozen people. What are the causes of landslides and mudslides and what precautions can you take?

What is a Landslide?

Landslides are a geological event that occurs when a slope has failed typically due to overexposure to water or an under exposure to water. Slope materials are typically made up of a soil consistency that has various amounts of clay soil. When the clay soil has an overexposure to water, for example from a water line break or from excessive rain, the clay will absorb as much of the water as it physically can. Once it has absorbed this water, the clay achieves a mud-like consistency and takes on a slimy characteristic that doesn’t allow it to possess much ability to stay in place on a typical slope or hillside. In contrast, an underexposure of water to the same clay soils will cause the soil to dry out and become brittle. When the clay is brittle it is no longer able to adhere to the hillside or slope and thus begins to move downward due to the gravitational pull.

What is the Difference Between a Landslide and a Mudslide?

Mudslides are landslides that typically occur when there is excessive rain, and often in Southern California, occur in areas after a recent wildfire causes a burn area where vegetation is scarce. The vegetation on the slopes helps to hold the soils in place. Once the vegetation has been removed, the slope can become unstable and when there is excessive rain the earth can start moving down the existing slope. During a mudslide, most of the loose topsoil layers are taken down the slope and can cause massive damage.

How Dalinghaus Construction Can Help

Dalinghaus Construction has vast experience in dealing with landslide locations in Southern California. We have worked with numerous engineering firms to come up with solutions to help prevent landslides in known areas. We typically use a combination of helical tieback anchors and concrete retaining walls to help lock the hillsides/slopes into their current place. Contact Dalinghaus Construction today to learn more about protecting your property against the dangers of landslides and mudslides in California.