Geology Ch 8 Mass Movements

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internal heat builds mountains

vs. gravity which pulls mountains down

mass wasting (movements)

gravity pulling geological materials downward


rapid mass movements

shearing stress is counteracted by shear strength (aka friction)


angle of repose

maximum slope angle at which material is stable (not going to slide); angle varies with material

steepness of the slope

affects the equilibrium between the forces: the steeper the slope, the greater the component of gravity parallel to the slope

water and clay can weaken rocks and make them prone to landslides. give an example

ex. Montmorillonite, a mineral of the clay group, has the property of absorbing twenty times its own weight in water, dramatically increasing the weight of the material (and therefore the component of gravity parallel to the slope), exacerbating potential for movement.

quick clays

clay sediments of glacial origin deposited under the sea; they acquired a honeycomb structure caused by the dissolution of the sodium chloride. The honeycomb structure is easily broken by vibrations, so slopes containing quick clays are prone to collapse.

sensitive clays

behave the same way as quick clays, but they have a different origin.


a slow, downward movement of unstable surface material


fast movements where the material falls through the air off a very steep slope


The accumulation of rubble at the bottom of the slope


movements of rocks or unconsolidated materials that occur along a curved surface over a short distance; there is a rotational component to the movement.


mass movements that occur in a chaotic fashion; different kinds: avalanches of snow or debris, mudflows and lahars, nuées ardentes (pyroclastic flows), and earthflows. All but the earthflows are fast.

prevention methods:

removing and re-grading the angle
retention structures (low walls)
fluid removal techniques
hardened with heat
injected with cement
diverting mudflows

The stability of a slope is increased when
A) its slope angle is increased during construction of a roadway
B) a building is constructed upon it
C) water is drained from the slope
D) vegetation is removed from the slope


Sandy soil has greatest strength when it is
A) dry
B) moist
C) saturated
D) quick


What process is mainly a result of soil expansion and contraction?
A) soil creep
B) landslide
C) mudflow
D) soil flowage


The angle of repose indicates the strength of soil when it has which moisture condition?
A) saturated
B) dry
C) quick
D) moist


Clay has no strength when it is
A) dry
B) moist
C) saturated
D) quick


Which mass movement involves material with the highest water content?
A) slump
B) rockfall
C) earthflow
D) mudflow


Which is the fastest moving mass movement?
A) slump
B) soil creep
C) avalanche
D) solifluction


he form of mass movement in which materials move in a disorganized, chaotic fashion is
A) slide
B) flow
C) rock fall
D) slump


Talus forms a steep slope because it is
A) coarse grained and angular
B) subject to soil creep
C) fine grained and rounded
D) usually saturated



is a type of mass wasting where waterlogged sediment moves slowly downslope, over impermeable material

Which is the slowest moving mass movement?
A) slump
B) soil creep
C) avalanche
D) solifluction


When soil freezes, it can
A) slump
B) flow
C) liquefy
D) heave


Rockfalls produce
A) mudflows
B) heaves
C) slumps
D) talus


The type of mass wasting that involves a rotational failure along a curved surface:
A) solifluction
B) slump
C) debris flow
D) debris avalanche


In granular soils, soil strength
A) is best when the soil is moist
B) is best when the soil is saturated
C) is best when the soil is dry
D) is not related to moisture content.


Which mass movement consists of the coarsest particles?
A) debris avalanche
B) earthflow
C) soil creep
D) mudflow


Rock bolts
A) are used to stabilize soil slopes
B) were tried once with disastrous consequences
C) are used to stabilize potential rock slides
D) are placed into rock beneath soil to prevent the soil from sliding.


In which type of mass wasting movement does the moving material retain its original shape?
A) heave
B) slide
C) creep
D) flow


A head scarp and hummocky toe are characteristics of a(n)
A) slump
B) heave
C) talus
D) rockfall


Clays that are deposited in a marine environment
A) are susceptible to quick conditions
B) are never susceptible to quick conditions
C) are the strongest, most stable type of clay deposit
D) are stronger when wet than when dry


Which change can lead to slope failure?
A) rise of water table in slope material
B) decline of water table in slope material
C) removal of material from the top of a slope
D) addition of material to the base of a slope


Landslides can also cause
A) earthquakes.
B) volcanic eruptions.
C) flooding.
D) seismic gaps.


Vegetation tends to increase slope stability by
A) adding water to the soil.
B) removing weight from the slope.
C) holding rainwater on the surface.
D) holding soil in place with roots.


One factor that influences slope stability but which humans can't alter is
A) vegetation cover.
B) geologic structure.
C) slope angle.
D) water content.


A slope that looks stable but has bent trees, tilted fence posts, and cracked walls may actually have
A) soil creep.
B) occasional mudflows.
C) modest landslides.
D) frequent rock fall.


A 1960 flood in the Italian Vaiont River Valley came from a landslide that
A) filled the valley.
B) splashed into a reservoir.
C) hit a dam and broke it.
D) filled a nearby wetland.


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