Text Size  A  A   Twitter Facebook YouTube Instagram Sign Up For Email Updates

Landslides


Buffalo Creek Landslide, Bighorn Basin, Wyoming

In November 2016, a Discovery Channel camera crew filmed geologists from the Wyoming State Geological Survey at the site of the Buffalo Creek Landslide in the Bighorn Basin. The landslide was noticed by hunters in October 2015. The video, produced and owned by Discovery Channel, can be viewed on the left. Follow the link below for an interpretation based on review of historic photographs, web-sources, photographs of the slide, existing data, and local geology.



Recent landslide near West Fork of Buffalo Creek



Landslides in Wyoming

Landslides, also known as mass wasting, are the downward movement of rock caused by gravity and occur when a slope becomes unstable. Rock falls, debris flows, slumps, lateral spread, and creep are all types of landslides. Landslides can damage or destroy roads, pipelines, structures, and utility lines. They can also temporarily block rivers with earthen dams, which when over topped by backed up water can cause flash-flooding downstream. When landslides do occur in populated areas, they can cause significant damage and loss of life. Local geology, geologic structures, hydrology, and precipitation are the primary contributors to landslides. Human activities such as road construction and surface water diversion can also have an effect on the occurrence of landslides.

Landslides occur every year in Wyoming, however, most occur in remote areas and do no typically cause damage. The WSGS has mapped more than 30,000 landslides in Wyoming, and maintains the database of these locations.

Landslide Database

Preliminary Map of Landslides in Wyoming

Landslides


Types of Landslides

Debris Flow—A mass of loose, water-laden and poorly sorted debris of fragmented rock, soil, and mud that surges down a slope in response to gravitational processes. Debris flows can be triggered by heavy rainfall, rapid snowmelt or by other landslides.


Debris Flow

Falls—Unexpected release of rock or coarse material from a steep slope.


Rockfall

Topples—Comparable to falls, but the primary motion involves forward rotation and mass movement of rock or debris out of a slope face.


Topple

Creep—Slow movement a material down a slope.


Slope creep

Rotational (slump)—Block of material moving down a slope along a concave surface.


Rotational landslide

Translational—Block of material moving down-slope that occurs along a distinctive surface of weakness (soil horizon, bedding or fault) or parallel to the ground surface.


Translational landslide


Contact:
Seth Wittke (307) 766-2286 Ext. 244