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2005-01-12 17:38:10.594861+00 by Dan Lyke 2 comments

While the landslide in La Conchita, California totally pales in the face of the recent tsunami devastation, it hits closer to home to me because that's the sort of geology and geography that I live near. Being on top of the faults, we Californians can be cocky in the knowledge that the tsunamis will originate here and destroy elsewhere.

But big rains leading to mud slides is something that's part of the regular experience out here. I know someone who lost a house to the waves after watching their back yard disappear feet by feet over the decades, down in Pacifica, and back in, I think, 1998, houses were sliding off the hills in Southern Marin as we blew past the 40 straight days of rain mentioned in biblical records. And this time of year the grass is green, and contrasts beautifully with the brick red slashes at the tops of the slides. These two pictures, comparing the 1995 slide there with the recent one, show both what happened, and the silliness of thinking that a dinky little retaining wall can hold back the dynamic landscape of new terrain.

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2005-01-12 20:27:18.696073+00 by: ebradway

The more I learn about cartography and geography, the more I learn that it's all temporary. Even the continents drift! What I find most interesting about geomorphology is mankind's efforts at halting it. It's quite laughable.

Our greatest efforts at controlling the environment and geography ultimately result in terrible destruction. The Army Corps of Engineers attempts to straighten rivers only resulted in massive flooding. Dams not only destroy millions of acres of habitat when they flood upstream, but they also negatively impact the habitats downstream and ultimately become potential weapons of mass destruction.

But on a larger scale, we have earthquakes, glaciation, and climatic changes among other forces that we can't even predict, much less control.

The best bet:

  1. Choose where you live carefully, especially if you buy land. For instance, there is no land in Florida that is a safe long-term investment. Pretty much the same goes for much of California.
  2. Go outdoors alot. Get used to the weather. Try not to create a completely artificial environment around you (i.e., don't get too used to the heat in the winter or the A/C in the summer). Try playing in a rainstorm sometime.
  3. Expect people to die occasionally due to natural disasters. It is completely "natural".

#Comment Re: made: 2005-01-12 21:49:32.309401+00 by: petronius

So, why didn't the state just condemn the area under the '95 slide and leave it empty? After the devastating 1993 floods on the Mississippi. the town of Valmeyer illinois just picked up and moved inland. The feds gave them some loans and they abandoned the riverside. No retaining wall could have saved the Ca town.