Natural Hazards

Irrigation endangerment

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Science  22 Nov 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6468, pp. 967-968
DOI: 10.1126/science.366.6468.967-c

Landslide damage from the 2018 Palu, Indonesia, earthquake.

PHOTO: JEWEL SAMAD/GETTY IMAGES

Earthquakes can trigger deadly and damaging landslides. Landslides during the 2018 earthquake at Palu, Indonesia, were responsible for many casualties. Bradley et al. identified irrigation from wet rice cultivation as an important factor that increased the landslide hazard. Irrigation changes the properties of soil and makes it more prone to a process by which it behaves like a liquid during ground shaking, making hillslopes more prone to landslides. Recognizing and avoiding irrigation practices that raise the water table where earthquake-triggered landslides may occur could help mitigate this hazard.

Nat. Geosci. 12, 935 (2019).

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