Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Landslides in Brazil

Friday, January 14, 2011 Source:AP

Last month, north of Rio de Janero in Brazil was overcome with mudslides that seems to have been triggered by heavy rainfall.  It is being said that this is the greatest natural disaster in Brazil's history.  It is estimated that greater than 1300 people were killed in these landslides and severe flooding.

Mudslides outside Rio de Janero, Brazil Source: The Seattle Times

Houses being built in the areas where these landslides occurred also contributed to the slides by putting more force on the unstable earth.  This goes to show that there needs to be studies done before constructions of houses or buildings are built.  These engineering studies should show that the land was not stable and houses or other buildings probably should not have been Other techniques besides aviodance include building a wide range of barriers at the bottom of the slopes.  There are three main ways to help stablize a slope including:
- Changing to shape of the slope
- Lowering the level of the groundwater or lowering the amount of water present in the earth material by drainage
- Mechanical methods such as barriers or anchors (see the picture below)

Stabilizing the slope.  Source: The full wiki.
For more pictures of the flooding and landslides in Brazil: Disasterous photos from 2011 Brazilian landslides


  1. It is definitely interesting to see more and more of these "largest in history" natural disasters. I wonder why this is happening more and at a larger scale?

    Do you think it is climate related?
    Or, do you think that it is related more to construction in these developments and developing countries?

  2. It seems to me like it's more from the construction/human impact. It was said that the soils wasn't suitable to be built on, so maybe the deveopling countries don't have the resources to be able to test the soils?
    I wonder if it's happening on a larger scale because they are trying to deveop and building wherever they can even if it's not stable and this causes the disasters to be more wide scale.

  3. Is there anything else that can be done to prevent and create awareness about landslides? You've included engineering techniques on how to stabilize the slope which helps. Like most natural disasters, a person can control how prepared they are for a disaster occurring. I saw a commercial the other day advertising to have a safety/emergency kit and a plan developed for hurricanes I believe. I assume same thing applies to landslides. Nice post, very informative.

  4. I like the pictures. I know sometimes it is hard to imagine what a mudslide would even look like, I know I think more viscosity when I think of a 'mudslide' instead of muddy water. I also liked that you included some engineering solutions to the problem

  5. This is a really interesting posts--the pics especially. I do wonder if this isn't due to a number of factors. Engineering, certainly, but also climate differences, poverty levels, increasing development/population, lack of trained engineers/architects, lack of resources, lack of building codes. all of these are surely coming together to create a perfect storm...