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Causing 1-2 billion in damages and more than 25 deaths per year landslides are a major geologic hazard caused by earthquakes and floods Although landslides are generally not as exciting or costly as earthquakes major floods tropical storms and other natural disasters they occur in more expanded places and may cause more property damage than any other geologic hazards A wide variety of ground movements such as rock falls slope failure and shallow debris flows can classify landslides When a portion of a hill slope cannot support its own weight a landslide will occur When rainfall or some other water source increases the water content of the slope the weakness is irritated reducing the strength of the materials Although gravity acting upon an increased slope is the main reason for a landslide there are other elements that contribute to its cause Loud sounds that occur during an earthquake also cause landslides Erosion caused by rivers glaciers or ocean waves create oversteepened slopes Heavy rains and melting snow weaken rock and soil slopes Furthermore vibrations from machinery traffic and even thunder may trigger failure of weak slopes Excess water can run through slope material and can cause a debris flow or mud flow The rock and mud left over after a landslide may pick up anything in its path such as trees houses and cars causing bridges and tributaries to become blocked which causes flooding throughout its path Even though the natural cause of most landslides is unable to be stopped geologic investigations good engineering practices and effective enforcement of land-use management regulations can cut back landslide danger Landslides effect every state in the United States territory The Appalachian Mountains the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Coastal Ranges and few parts of Alaska and Hawaii have intense landslide problems USGS marine scientists have recently identified over fifteen giant landslides surrounding the Hawaiian Islands These slides are some of the largest known on
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