The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

April 7, 2014

Early-warning tools to scan for slides rarely used in Northwest

(Continued)

Landslides are intermittent and don’t cause as much death and destruction as earthquakes or floods. That’s why the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) devotes only $3 million a year to landslides and one reason why many states — including Washington — have cut back their efforts, he said.

There’s no federal inventory of landslide-prone slopes, and the existing USGS map dates to 1982. States and counties have lists, but most are incomplete.

Washington’s was compiled without input from a new, laser-mapping technique, which has revealed many previously unknown slide zones.

It’s impossible to monitor every landslide, Moore said. An effective program has to start by singling out the most dangerous ones: those like the Oso slide, which have failed in the past and loom over communities.

With new technologies like laser mapping and satellite imaging, that can be done, said Jonathan Stock, director of the USGS Innovation Center for Earth Science. That more and more communities are expanding into landslide-prone rural and suburban areas adds urgency.

“What people want to know is where the landslides are, when they might happen and how big they might be,” Stock said.

Monitoring can address the “when” question.

The movement that precedes most major slides usually starts slowly, then accelerates as collapse draws near, Moore explained.

“We use displacement trends to predict the time of failure.”

There’s a wide range of instruments that can detect and monitor those trends.

Some of the best are inserted in boreholes where they track what’s going on deep inside a hill.

Devices called inclinometers and tiltmeters can tell when slumping starts and how fast it’s proceeding. Piezometers detect changes in water pressure due to rain and runoff, which can force apart soil grains and weaken the bonds of friction that help keep slopes upright.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • Congress racing to finish Congress races to finish veterans, highway bills

    July 31, 2014

  • Target New CEO [Duplicate] Target names Pepsi's Cornell as chairman, CEO MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Target has hired Pepsi executive Brian Cornell as its new chairman and CEO as it looks to recover from a huge data breach and troubles in Canada. Cornell replaces interim CEO John Mulligan, who is chief financial officer for the M

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brain wave monitoring is better gauge than using a focus group, study says To predict a large population’s likely response to something — a product, politician or policy — political consultants, marketing gurus and advertising execs have long favored the focus group. Ask a small segment of the target audience what it thinks

    July 31, 2014

  • Argentina slides into default as debt talks fail NEW YORK (AP) — The collapse of talks with U.S. creditors sent Argentina into its second debt default in 13 years and raised questions about what comes next for financial markets and the South American nation's staggering economy. A midnight Wednesd

    July 31, 2014

  • Exchange Bee Researcher [Duplicate] Bee researcher takes aim at central Minnesota park WAITE PARK — Crystal Boyd strained four bees, three flies and one leafhopper from a yellow pan trap, the third of 12 in a transect topping a granite outcrop in Quarry Park Scientific and Natural Area.She popped everything into a labeled, zip-top plas

    July 31, 2014 4 Photos

  • Cinema verite documentarian Robert Drew dies at 90 Filmmaker Robert Drew, a pioneer of the modern documentary who in "Primary" and other movies mastered the intimate, spontaneous style known as cinema verite and schooled a generation of influential directors that included D.A. Pennebaker and Albert M

    July 30, 2014

  • Homeowner killed, another injured in Vegas crime spree LAS VEGAS — A horrific carjacking and home invasion spree ended with two people dead and a woman in critical condition. One victim, Richard Ramos, a 59-year-old father of four, “fought to his death” to protect his wife and children from their attack

    July 30, 2014

  • Officer Shooting Minnesota-9 [Duplicate] UPDATE: Suspect in Minnesota officer killing in custody WEST ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Police in Minnesota say a man wanted in the shooting death of an officer is in custody after being shot by police. St. Paul police spokesman Sgt. Paul Paulos says 39-year-old Brian Fitch Sr. got out of a minivan firing at

    July 30, 2014 4 Photos

  • Officer Shooting Minnesota-3 [Duplicate] Minnesota officer killed making traffic stop WEST ST. PAUL (AP) — A police officer in Minnesota was fatally shot Wednesday while making a traffic stop and authorities said they were searching for a suspect. Mendota Heights police officer Scott Patrick, 47, was shot about 12:20 p.m. after pulli

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • Possible suspect caught in Minnesota cop shooting WEST ST. PAUL (AP) — A potential suspect in the shooting of a police officer in Minnesota has been captured. Minnesota Public Radio News reports that the officer was killed. Television news footage showed the man being pulled from his vehicle Wednes

    July 30, 2014