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Title Frequency and Magnitude of Selected Historical Landslide Events in the Southern Appalachian Highlands of North Carolina and Virginia: Relationships to Rainfall, Geological and Ecohydrological Controls, and Effects
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Abstract

Landsliding is a recurring process in the southern Appalachian Highlands

(SAH) region of the Central Hardwood Region. Debris fl ows, dominant among

landslide processes in the SAH, are triggered when rainfall increases pore-water

pressures in steep, soil-mantled slopes. Storms that trigger hundreds of debris fl ows

occur about every 9 years and those that generate thousands occur about every 25

years. Rainfall from cyclonic storms triggered hundreds to thousands of debris fl ows in 1916, 1940, 1969, 1977, 1985, and 2004. Debris fl ows have caused loss of

life and property, and severely affected forest lands by altering forest structure and

disrupting aquatic ecosystems. Forests on mountain slopes are critical in mitigating

the impacts of recurring landslide events. Forest cover is an important stabilizing

factor on hillslopes by intercepting precipitation, increasing evapotranspiration, and

reinforcing roots. Precipitation and hillslope-scale landforms have a controlling

effect on soil moisture, root strength, and debris fl ow hazards. Anthropogenic infl uences

have increased the frequency of mass wasting for a given storm event above

historical natural levels through changes in vegetation and disturbances on mountain

slopes. Climate change that results in increased occurrences of high intensity

rainfall through more frequent storms, or higher intensity storms, would also be

expected to increase the frequency of debris fl ows and other forms of mass-wasting

in the SAH. The interdisciplinary technical and scientifi c capacity exists to investigate,

analyze, identify and delineate landslide prone areas of the landscape with

increasing reliability.

Contributors Richard, M. Wooten, Anne, C. Witt, Chelcy, F. Miniat, Tristram, C. Hales and Jennifer, L. Aldred
Citation

Richard M. Wooten, Anne C. Witt, Chelcy F. Miniat, Tristram C. Hales, and Jennifer L. Aldred. Frequency and Magnitude of Selected Historical Landslide Events in the Southern Appalachian Highlands of North Carolina and Virginia: Relationships to Rainfall, Geological and Ecohydrological Controls, and Effects. Pages 203-262 in: Greenberg, C. and Collins, B. (editors). Natural Disturbances and Range of Variation. Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016.

Key Words Blue Ridge Mountains, Debris flow, Ecohydrological, Landslide, Southern Appalachian Highlands
File Date 2016
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