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In some mountainous terrain, debris flows preferentially initiate from the toes and margins of larger, deeper, slower-moving landslides. During the wet winter of 1997, we began real-time monitoring of the large, active Cleveland Corral landslide complex in California, USA. When the main slide is actively moving, small, shallow, first-time slides on the toe and margins mobilize into debris flows and travel down adjacent gullies. We monitored the acceleration of one such failure; changes in velocity provided precursory indications of rapid failure. Three factors appear to aid the initiation of debris flows at this site: 1) locally steepened ground created by dynamic landslide movement, 2) elevated pore-water pressures and abundant soil moisture, and 3) locally cracked and dilated materials. This association between debris flows and large landslides can be widespread in some terrain. Detailed photographic mapping in two watersheds of northwestern California illustrates that the areal density of debris-flow source landsliding is about 3 to 7 times greater in steep geomorphically fresher landslide deposits than in steep ground outside landslide deposits. ?? 2003 Millpress.
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Debris-flow initiation from large, slow-moving landslides
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3rd International Conference on Debris-Flow Hazards Mitigation: Mechanics, Prediction, and Assessment