Understanding How Landslide Slope Risks Can Be Reduced

Posted on: 20 December 2016

According to FEMA, there are several areas of the country that are on or are extremely close to natural faults. These areas have fairly high earthquake hazard risks, and you are likely to experience strong shaking and notice structural damage if an earthquake does occur. If your home is built on an elevated property, then landslides may be a risk as well. You can work with an earthquake engineer or a seismic retrofitting business to help reduce these concerns. There are several things that can be done to stabilize the slope on your property to reduce landslide risks, like the following.

Anchor Blocks

If you have a steep slope on your property and your home sits on top of or very near the slope, then advanced types of stabilization may be required. While weight reduction is one of the more common methods of stabilization, this is not possible if your home sits on the slope. To help keep a devastating landslide from occurring, anchor blocks can be added. This is something that you may see in areas where homes overlook the seaside or sit high on a hill above the ocean.

Anchor blocks are used to stabilize the earth or hold it together. The blocks are commonly used in construction to help secure two parts of a building or bridge together without sacrificing the structural integrity of the materials. Anchor fasteners are placed in concrete as well to secure objects like steel beams over a foundation or slab. 

In the case of a ground slope, the anchor blocks help to keep the ground or soil secure above the underlying layer of bedrock. Bedrock sits deep in the earth and is a hard and stable surface. While the material may crack or break apart, it does not release from the earth without a great deal of force. This means the rock can be the anchor that keeps the soil tethered in place. A large metal plate or steel beam is secured deep in the bedrock to set the anchor. A concrete block will be placed over the soil to secure the end of the tether or plate, and an attachment is set in the concrete. A series of these anchors are secured across the slope. If an earthquake does hit the area, the anchor blocks keep the earth from breaking free and cascading down the slope.

Impermeable Membranes

If your home does not sit on the slope or if the slope on your property is not nearly as steep, then a membrane can be placed over the ground to keep it from crumbling. Landslides are much more common if the affected area is wet. Moisture loosens the soil and allows it to break away and crumble more easily. Stopping water from infiltrating the ground or rising up from the earth to the surface is a good way to keep the soil from becoming too moist. An impenetrable membrane can be placed over the slope to reduce moisture concerns. These membranes are similar to the liners that are placed on the bottom of landscaping ponds. Liners may be made out of rubber EPDM materials or a plastic polyethylene.

If you live in a dry area that sees significant rainfall only a few times a year, then a semi-permeable membrane may be possible for the slope. Also, french drain systems or tiling may be used to help move the water away from the slope. 

In some cases, the addition of plants, trees, and other greenery can help to stabilize the ground. Low water plants can be used, and the roots help to keep the ground intact and stable.

If you want to know about more about how your property and how your ground slope can be stabilized, then contact a seismic retrofitting company for help.