More than 220 large landslides along the bluffs bordering the Mississippi alluvial plain between Cairo, Ill., and Memphis, Tenn., are analyzed by discriminant analysis and multiple linear regression to determine the relative effects of slope height and steepness, stratigraphic variation, slope aspect, and proximity to the hypocenters of the 1811-12 New Madrid, Mo., earthquakes on the distribution of these landslides. Three types of landslides are analyzed: (1) old, coherent slumps and block slides, which have eroded and revegetated features and no active analogs in the area; (2) old earth flows, which are also eroded and revegetated; and (3) young rotational slumps, which are present only along near-river bluffs, and which are the only young, active landslides in the area. Discriminant analysis shows that only one characteristic differs significantly between bluffs with and without young rotational slumps: failed bluffs tend to have sand and clay at their base, which may render them more susceptible to fluvial erosion. Bluffs having old coherent slides are significantly higher, steeper, and closer to the hypocenters of the 1811-12 earthquakes than bluffs without these slides. Bluffs having old earth flows are likewise higher and closer to the earthquake hypocenters. Multiple regression analysis indicates that the distribution of young rotational slumps is affected most strongly by slope steepness: about one-third of the variation in the distribution is explained by variations in slope steepness. The distribution of old coherent slides and earth flows is affected most strongly by slope height, but the proximity to the hypocenters of the 1811-12 earthquakes also significantly affects the distribution. The results of the statistical analyses indicate that the only recently active landsliding in the area is along actively eroding river banks, where rotational slumps formed as bluffs are undercut by the river. The analyses further indicate that the old coherent slides and earth flows in the area are spatially related to the 1811-12 earthquake hypocenters and were thus probably triggered by those earthquakes. These results are consistent with findings of other recent investigations of landslides in the area that presented field, historical, and analytical evidence to demonstrate that old landslides in the area formed during the 1811-12 New Madrid earthquakes. Results of the multiple linear regression can also be used to approximate the relative susceptibility of the bluffs in the study area to seismically induced landsliding. ?? 1989.
Additional publication details
Statistical analysis of factors affecting landslide distribution in the new Madrid seismic zone, Tennessee and Kentucky