Using monitoring and modeling to define the hazard posed by the reactivated Ferguson rock slide, Merced Canyon, California

Natural Hazards
By: , and 

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Abstract

Rapid onset natural disasters such as large landslides create a need for scientific information about the event, which is vital to ensuring public safety, restoring infrastructure, preventing additional damage, and resuming normal economic activity. At the same time, there is limited data available upon which to base reliable scientific responses. Monitoring movement and modeling runout are mechanisms for gaining vital data and reducing the uncertainty created about a rapid onset natural disaster. We examine the effectiveness of this approach during the 2006 Ferguson rock slide disaster, which severed California Highway 140. Even after construction of a bypass restoring normal access to the community of El Portal, CA and a major entrance to Yosemite National Park, significant scientific questions remained. The most important for the affected public and emergency service agencies was the likelihood that access would again be severed during the impending rainy season and the possibility of a landslide dam blocking flow in the Merced River. Real-time monitoring of the Ferguson rock slide yielded clear information on the continuing movement of the rock slide and its implications for emergency response actions. Similarly, simulation of runout deposits using a physically based model together with volumes and slope steepness information demonstrated the conditions necessary for a landslide dam-forming event and the possible consequences of such an event given the dimensions of potential rock slide deposits.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Using monitoring and modeling to define the hazard posed by the reactivated Ferguson rock slide, Merced Canyon, California
Series title Natural Hazards
DOI 10.1007/s11069-014-1518-4
Volume 76
Issue 2
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Volcano Science Center
Description 21 p.
First page 769
Last page 789
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Merced Canyon