Landslides triggered by the 13 January and 13 February 2001 earthquakes in El Salvador

Special Paper of the Geological Society of America
By: , and 



During a one-month period in early 2001El Salvador experienced two devastating earthquakes. On 13 January, a M-7.7 earthquake centered ∼40 km off the southern coast in the Pacific Ocean caused widespread damage and fatalities throughout much of the country. The earthquake triggered thousands of landslides that were broadly scattered across the southern half of the country. The most damaging landslide, a rapidly moving mass of ∼130, 000 m 3, occurred in the Las Colinas neighborhood of Santa Tecla, where ∼585 people were killed. Another large landslide (∼750, 000 m 3) near the city of San Vicente blocked the Pan-American Highway for several weeks. One month later, on 13 February, a M-6.6 earthquake occurred ∼40 km east-southeast of San Salvador and triggered additional thousands of landslides in the area east of Lake Ilopango. The landslides were concentrated in a 2500 km2 area and were particularly abundant in areas underlain by thick deposits of poorly consolidated, late Pleistocene and Holocene Tierra Blanca rhyolitic tephras erupted from Ilopango caldera. Most of the triggered landslides were relatively small, shallow failures, but two large landslides occurred that blocked the El Desagüe River and the Jiboa River. The two earthquakes triggered similar types of landslides, but the distribution of triggered landslides differed because of different earthquake source parameters. The largemagnitude, deep, offshore earthquake triggered broadly scattered landslides over a large region, whereas the shallow, moderate-magnitude earthquake centered within the country triggered a much smaller, denser concentration of landslides. These results are significant in the context of seismic-hazard mitigation for various earthquake scenarios.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Landslides triggered by the 13 January and 13 February 2001 earthquakes in El Salvador
Series title Special Paper of the Geological Society of America
DOI 10.1130/0-8137-2375-2.69
Volume 375
Year Published 2004
Language English
Publisher Geological Society of America
Description 20 p.
First page 69
Last page 88
Country El Salvador
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details