Study Abroad and Exchanges



GEO3144 : Landslides from Pole to Pole (Inactive)

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


Rationale: Mountainous relief is generated by the interaction of tectonics and climate, with the balance responsible for the net change of a landscape’s relief and elevation. The potential of rivers and glaciers to erode (or protect) mountainous landscapes in response to tectonic and climatic forcing has been the focus of much work, with hillslope processes often assumed to respond to, and reflect, undercutting by either process. These hillslope processes undertake the geomorphic work above rivers and ice that lower mountain peaks and retreats valley sides, providing sediment to be mobilized from orogens, therefore playing a key role in controlling relief and elevation. The ability of landslides to transfer sufficient mass to keep pace with fluvial and glacial downcutting and tectonic uplift is not well constrained and is dependent upon characterising their long-term magnitude-frequency. This magnitude-frequency has direct implications for those living, or passing through steep terrain, and those tasked with minimising the threats to life and infrastructure though avoidance, or engineering. This module will explore the conceptual models of long-term slope evolution, our approaches to monitoring and modelling failure, and the varied approaches to landslide hazard and risk mitigation/management.

Aims: This module aims to develop knowledge and understanding of the principles, theory and practice of hillslope professionals and researchers, applied geomorphology, monitoring and modelling, and, varied approaches to engineering or societal mitigation.

Outline Of Syllabus

The Syllabus will cover:
•       Introduction to hillslope processes, landscape to slope scale
•       Magnitude-frequency and how to measure it over varied timescales
•       Quantifying landslide hazard and risk
•       The mechanics of failure
•       Failure modelling – how safe is your slope?
•       Landslide runout modelling – how far, how fast?
•       Microscale / analogue modelling of debris flows
•       Extraordinary landslides?
•       Landslides and society, willingness and abilities to intervene
•       Mitigation: techniques, challenges and societal risk
•       Landslides and climate change
•       Landslides and glaciers - I see no cirques or moraines, just landslides
•       Landslides and rivers – are landslide just a passive response to incising rivers?
•       Landslide dams, and their outburst floods
•       The landslide sediment cascade
•       Finding lost landslides in the sedimentary records

•       Microscale modelling of debris flows (desktop landslides).
•       Differencing 3D models to detect landslides.
•       Runout modelling of large rock avalanches/debris flows.

•       1 day fieldtrip to ONE of the following locations: Lake District, Northumberland, or Howgill Fells. Trip location is dependent upon landslide and engineering activity in the teaching year.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture101:0010:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion154:0054:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical42:008:002 lab sessions will require running twice
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading1100:00100:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops21:002:004 way group split
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork28:0016:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity110:0010:00Culminating in project group meeting with academic of ~30 min, 5 hour period allowed
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will introduce key concepts across a range of spatial and temporal time-scales, and will utilise research and professional practice case-study examples.

Fieldwork will enable students to be trained in the use of data collection techniques which will allow the interpretation these data, and their practical application in mitigating landslide hazard. Practical classes will allow students to implement microscale models to collect primary data, analyse secondary data, and recommend solutions – all based on real-world situations. Structured (learning materials provided) student led group activity will allow for project design, with feedback provided to groups via bookable slots in a 5 hr session of availability. Small group workshops will allow exploration of innovative model scenario, and how to analyse these data.

Attendance at practicals and field trips are compulsory. Attendance registers will be taken for all practical sessions and field days. In the absence of mitigating circumstances non-attendance will result in zero for missed components.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination901A502 hours: 2 essays from choice of 6.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report1M502000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The synoptic exam will examine the lecture-based knowledge gained by students, incorporating the knowledge and skills learnt as during the practical exercises. Lectures, supplemented by student reading (partly directed), provide the essential knowledge base for this module.

The report assesses the ability of students to design an appropriate study, collect, analyze and present a range of primary and secondary data, and set this within the theoretical and practice context. The practical work builds upon fieldwork experience, so fieldwork is not independently assessed.

Reading Lists