Monday, June 26, 2006

Landslide Hazards in California Coast Ranges (Research Paper))


Landslide hazards refer to the possibility for an incident of a harmful landslide within an attacked area. The damage could include loss of life, personal injury, house and building damage, social and economic disruption, and environmental degradation. In the United States, landslide hazards cause “approximately $1 billion - $3.5 billion in damage, and kill between 25 and 50 people” annually (National Research Council, 2004). An area that is confronted with landslide hazards is the state of California, especially in the coastal ranges. Some evidence shows that landslides have occurred for decades. On March 4, 1995, La Conchita, a coastal town in Southern California, experienced a heavy rain season and “600,000 tons of mud” moved down on the town. Fortunately, nobody was hurt but nine homes were buried (Jibson, 2005). Ten years later, on January 10, 2005, La Conchita encountered a mudslide again caused by a winter rainstorm. At that time, “10 people were killed, 13 homes were destroyed, and 23 homes were buried under mud debris” (Rising, 2006). This poor disaster happened again when a second winter rainstorm came through the first day of this year. The rainstorm attacked coastal towns not only in Southern California, but in Northern California also. Floodwaters and mud were sent into the cities. Many homes were covered with mud and streets and highways were shut down (Justin, 2006). The county officials advised homeowners to move out of these areas however some homeowners refused to leave their towns and called for the local counties to be responsible. Landslide hazards can occur in almost any country in the world as long as there are high mountains and hills in their areas. We have to loose many people and waste a lot of money to repair damages due to landslides. To deal with landslide hazard, we should focus on the prevention of landslide hazard. We should study the causes and consequences of landslide hazards and urge the government to institute mitigation strategies preparing for the next situation.

Argument Essay

First, we should study the causes of landslide to relieve damages. We should know that our areas are located in risk areas or not, because the most important factor that causes landslides are geological factors. In areas that contain mountains with weak or sensitive parent materials or weathered materials such as sandstone, or marine sediment, landslides can occur easily. Mudslides that occur in California are often due to this reason. Mudslide will occur when soil consists of “at least 50 percent sand, silt, and clay particles” and is soaked enough to flow rapidly (Highland, 2002). For example, the California coastal ranges include many smaller chains of mountain ranges and consist of hills, ridges, and peaks (The Geograpy of California, 2006). The Northern Coast Ranges consist of two parallel belts of mountains. The Southern Coast Ranges are a group of mountain ranges in Central California. Almost all parent materials of these mountains in these two sites consist of sandstones, siltstones, and soft marine sediment (Coast Ranges, 2006). The mountain ranges are very poorly solidified so that landslide activities can occur easily when there are rainstorms. The people who live in these kind of areas should decide if they can endure this severe risk. If the residents don’t want to beat risk, they should move out. But if they insist that they have to stay there, they should prepare themselves for unexpected landslide hazards by watching weather forecast, building guard walls , or lifting the house’s floors. The residents should not place their hopes only on the officials.

Another factor is morphological factors that are involve with topography or natural activities, for instance, fluvial, wave, or glacial erosion of slope toe or lateral margins, deposition loading slope or its crest, and eliminated vegetation (by fire or drought) areas.

The last factors are human causes such as deforestation, mining, irrigation, etc. We have to cut many trees that causes widely abandoned land due to these activities. As we use land, we should sustain it at the same time. We should avoid land use in high slope area or if necessary, we should build ridges by planting a row of elephant grass in steps to reduce soil erosion. Another suggestion is using a portion of the land and keeping the large trees or using land and conserving the entire forest, for example, forstry agriculture. According to Chowdhury (1999), when there is rainfall for long periods, forestry landslides are produced more than usual. If we live in the effected areas for landsliding, planting trees around hillsides is the best suggestion. Trees make soil aggregation that form strong materials. When there are rainstorms, tree’s roots can absorb water and hold soil surface that can decrease the amount of water and mud before they flow down onto towns.

Secondly, we should study the effects of landslide hazards to look for ways to prevent damages. Landslides impact people, their homes, industries, and transportations systems (e.g., streets, highways). However, not many people concern about these problems. Actually landslide disasters are as important as social and economic problems. They have many effects to social and economic growth. For example, reduced the real estate values in the threatened areas, loss of tax revenues, interrupted transport systems, destroyed agriculture and industrial productivities, the loss of people because of death, injury, or disease, and costs of measures to prevent landslide activity. According to National Research Council (2004), in 1979-1980, the six counties of California lost “approximately $500 million” due to landslides caused by heavy winter rainstorm. In 1982, San Francisco Bay area was damaged with “about 6,500 homes and 1,000 businesses” destroyed. The city and county officials paid for direct costs in “the amount of more than $66 million, and paid $298 million for 930 lawsuits and claims”. Landslides also affect subaerial and submarine landscapes, natural forest and grassland, river quality, the habitats of native fauna and birds, and other animals that live in underground burrow. In fluvial-lacustrine sediments along the Columbia River, landslides cause enormous loss of nesting cliff swallows, as well as impacting anadromous fish (e.g., salmon). Because of increasing sediments in spawning gravels or pools, fish cannot return to spawn in freshwater streams (National Research Council, 2004).

After landslides occur, the results are flooding and mud-covering. State governments and local officials should build channels to drain flood waters and prepare bulldozers to evacuate mud. We should also arrange medical emergency plans consisting of medicines, doctors, and medical instruments for disease and injury that are effects in people from flooding and mud debris. According to the examples, we can infer that landslide hazards involve our entire life cycle. We should not overlook this problem. We should learn from these wrong experiences, solve them and seek a way to prevent these mistakes, not allowing them to happen again.

Finally, we should urge the government to draft the mitigation approaches for the next situation. These three strategies should be provided. First, the government should develop tools for assessing and monitoring the effects of landslide hazards. At present, the evolution of technologies can assist us in predicting situations that will occur in future. The new technologies that we should use for landslide hazard protection are remote-sensing and the geographic information system (GIS). Remote-sensing is used in broadcasting including aerial photography and imagery from airbone satellites (National Research Council, 2004). Remote-sensing images provide region data for indicating the suitability of regional factors such as slope, covered-vegetation and topography that are related to landslides and input attributed data such as precipitation quantity in GIS. GIS will comply statistics and monitor the risk areas. The outputs that we get from these processes are maps that relate to landslide hazards. We should link landslide hazard mapping to land-use planning because human activities are one major cause of landslides.

Next, the goverment should collect and transfer all information to local areas and educate the state and county officials in how to use the information and then the local officials should provide landslide loss and risk information to residents in these areas. The officials should organize some technological trainings that residents in risk area can use for searching for more information about landslides in their areas.

Then we should provide landslide insurance. In New Zealand, a government organization, The New Zealand Earthquake Commission, provides property damage insurance for earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, natural landslide, tsunamis, and hydrothermal activities (National Research Council, 2004). Additional advice is that the government should take care not only of physical aspects of the residents but also mental aspects, too. Giving money to disaster victims is one way that can help these victims, but I think giving them information and protecting policies would help them feel better.


Landslide hazards relate to our lives and can be included by human activities, which result in loss of life or injury, damage house and buildings, and can cause social and economic disruption. We should focus on prevention of landslide hazard by learning about causes and consequences of landslides – when landslide can occur and how to prepare ourselves to deal with landslide hazards. Urging the government to pay more attention to landslide hazards by supporting monitoring technique research, improving laboratories, developing advance procedures and guidelines, and providing education and mitigation strategies would be a great sort.


Chowdhury, R. (1999). Landslides. Rotterdam, Natherlands: A.A. Balkema.

Coast Ranges (2006). [Online encyclopedia]. Retrived June 10, 2006, from :

Highland, L. (2002). Landslide Types and Processes. [U.S. Geological Survey : science for a chanding world]. Retrieved June 9, 2006, from :

Jibson, R.W. (2005). Landslide Hazards at La Conchita, California. [U.S. Geological Survey: science for a changing world]. Retrieved June 9, 2006, from :

National Research Council. (2004). Partnerships for Reducing Landslide Risk. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

Norton, J.S. (2006, January 1). Flood waters begin to recede as residents shift to cleanup. Associated Press. Retrieved from Lexis-Nexis database, May 30,2006.

Rising, G. (2006,January 8). California coastal town fears replay of mudslide that killed 10 people. Associated Press. Retrieved from Lexis-Nexis database, May 31,2006.

The Geography of California (January 16, 2006). [Online map]. Retrieved June 10, 2006, from :

Synthesis Essay Exam

How foreign students contribute to their American communities

From the past to present, there are many foreigners in the United State. Most of them come to the United State to study. The international students register and spend a lot of money to American’s universities each year that advantage for the America’s economic system.

According to Ley (1984), If there are “300,000” international students enroll in U.S. universities and pay “$10,000” each year, “3 billion dollars will be contributed to the American economy”. There were about “345,000 international students in the United State in 1984” (Venderpluym, 1985). These numbers show that the large amounts of money importantly provide to the United State economy annually. According to Adams and Kazmerik (1984), the research demonstrated that the universities with large numbers of foreign students have more positive views to other countries and alien people than the universities that most of students are native students. However, according to Zukoff and Williams (1985), there are many international restaurants and glossaries that build to support the needs of international students. These kinds of businesses provide jobs to people who live in those areas and lead to the tax base of the residential districts also.

According to the passage, the native students should not look over the international students and foreigners because they are one of the most important part of American economy. International students and foreigners provide jobs to local people and contribute a lot of money to American communities.

Reference :

Adams, H. & Kazmerik, J. (1984). Research in Higher Education : Foreign students and the community, vol. 5, pp. 30-40.

Ley, A. (1984). The New Gazette : The economics of international education, vol. 33, pp. 25-39.

Venderpluym, J. (1985). NAFSA Handbooks : Internationals students, vol. 20, pp. 21.

Zukoff, J. & Williams, M. (1985). Research in Higher Education : The foreign student, vol. 14, pp. 57-69.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Research Paper Propersal

Landslide Hazards in California Coastal Ranges

After I read several articles about disasters in coastal areas of California, I became interested in the effects of landslide hazards in these areas. The coastal ranges in Califonia include many smaller chains of mountain ranges and consist of hills, ridges, and peaks. The Northern coast ranges consist of two parallel belts of mountains. The Southern coastal ranges are a group of mountain ranges in central California. Because of geographical features of some counties in coastal areas of California that have high mountains and consist of poorly indurated marine sediment that are very weakly cemented, landslide activity can occur easily when there are rainstorms. There are three causes that induce landslide due to the geological formation of weak rock materials such as siltstone and sandstone, the morphological landscapes such as high slope cliffs, and by human activity such as mining and deforestation. Landslides have an impact on human society, economy and environment. "Landslides in the United States cause approximately $1 billion - $3.5 billion in damage, and kill between 25 and 50 people annually". They also impact fish habitats, especially those of anadromous fish (e.g., salmon) which live in oceans but return to fresh water streams to spawn (National Research Council, 2004).

I plan to discuss landslide hazard mitigation stratregies. First, I will write about tools for assessing and monitoring landslide affected areas. I would like to mention landslide hazard maps, remote-sensing technologies and landslide monitoring techniques. Next, the education of landslide hazards would be discussed. All information about landslide hazard should be collected and transfered to local areas. The officials of each landslide risk area should be educated on how to use all of the transfered information and landslides loss and risk assessment information should be annouced to residents in those areas. Finally, I will address additional loss reduction measures by linking landslide hazard mapping to land-use planning, landslide insurance, assessment districts and homeowner associations. Therefore, it will be necessary to research monitoring techniques, improving laboratories for landslide asssessment, developing advancing procedures and guidelines for landslide hazards, and improving education and mitigation strategies for the state officials and the general public.

I have found several articles and books that give information on landslide incident and general information about landslide hazards. I have also gathered information on California geography from useful websites that helps to understand the causes of landslides due to geological formation.

References :

Coast Ranges (2006). [Online encyclopedia]. Retrieved June 10, 2006, from :

Highland, L. (2002). Landslide Types and Processes. [U.S. Geological Survey:science for a chanding world]. Retrieved June 9, 2006, from :

Jibson, R.W. (2005). Landslide Hazards at La Conchita, California. [U.S. Geological Survey: science for a changing world]. Retrieved June 9, 2006, from :

National Research Council. (2004). Partnerships for Reducing Landslide Risk. Washington, D.C.:The National Academies Press.

Norton, J.S. (2006, January 1). Flood waters begin to recede as residents shift to cleanup. Associated Press. Retrieved from Lexis-Nexis database, May 30,2006.

Rising, G. (2006,January 8). California coastal town fears replay of mudslide that killed 10 people. Associated Press. Retrieved from Lexis-Nexis database, May 31,2006.

The Geography of California (January 16, 2006). [Online map]. Retrieved June 10, 2006, from :

Essay Exam

Out of the Woods

In Out of the Woods, Jodi Jacobson says, “To fail to recognize women’s roles in forest management and as income earners is to fail in the fundamental purpose of development itself”. This quote explains that if governments and men do not accept women in third world countries to participate in forest management and if women can not own land rights and get income from trees in the forests, forest management can hardly be possible. Women in third world countries know forests more than men. For example, in Sierra Leone, women have to go in the forest to find food and utilities for their family every day. They can name 30 products that they make from the forests, while men can name only 8 products. In India, women know 300 species of forest trees for medical uses.

I agree with Jodi Jacobson that women should participate in forest management. Because women know how important forests are for their lives and women will use them in the right way . Women will think of the way to conserve forest resources for use in the long term because they know that their lives depend on the forests.

2nd Summary/Response

Flood water begin to recede as residents shift to cleanup

In the article “Flood waters begin to recede as residents shift to cleanup” by Justin Norton, a second winter storm attacked Southern California and a wine county community in Northern California. Many homes and businesses were flooded and streets and highways were covered by mud. In southern California, there was a flash flood watchs for areas left blankened by wild fires and wind watch for mountains and coastal area. In northern California, the residents dried out their flooded homes and business owners selected their mud-covered damage goods. Fortunately, only two people were killed due to this situation. Power outages occured during the storm, but no homes were threatened. Officials expected that the water would subsicle in a few days after the rainstorm.

There are three important areas to consider with rainstorm phenomenon that should be addressed. Before rainstorms occur, flood waters and mudslides should be watched. With recent modern technologies such as the Internet and geographic information system (GIS), we can monitor water by tracing the flow and predict dangerous water level. On the Internet, we can search for a forecast website that can tell us about how strong a storm could be, which areas will be attacked or will receive negative effects from the storm. We can use GIS tools for mapping risk areas by supplying data, such as, wind speed, watershed, and precipitation, to residents. Then the GIS program will analyze the risk areas. The advantages of these modern technologies can provide safety in our lives. We can get out of the risk areas on time.

When dangerous rainstorms are occuring, we should have a flood walls and mud-protecting walls for lower area especially in the areas near flood basins or levees. These areas mainly have low land that is easy to be flooded and coated with mud. Pertaining to business owners, they should have warehouses in high areas that can protect their goods from flood and mudslides. State governments and local officials should drain water and remove mud on streets because of possible accidents.

After the end of a disaster as that discussed in the article, the county should have better policies to prevent floods and mudslides. They should build water drain channel that connect to the overflowing rivers. The county can also prevent mudslides by planting trees around levee because trees’ roots can hold land surface and make soil aggregation. These two suggestions could be the best ways to protect residents from harm and damage from flooding and mudslides before they occur.

Norton T.M. (2006, January 1). Flood waters begin to recede as residents shift to cleanup. Associated Press. Retrieved from Lexis-Nexis database, May 30, 2006.

1st Summary/Response

California coastal town fears replay of mudslide that killed 10 people

In the article “California coastal town fears replay of mudslide that killed 10 people” by Greg Rising, the effects of winter storms that caused mudslides last year in the coastal town of La Conchita, CA were discussed. Ten years ago, tons of mud plunged down onto this town. At that time, houses were buried and people were wounded but nobody was hurt. But during this recent incident, some parts of the town were buried and people were killed. Scientists are still not absolutely sure that this area is safe. It is possible that the disaster could happen again. However, the homeowners in La Conchita refuse to move out of their town. The county officials discussed conducting a comprehensive study in the risk area but the cost figures and schedules have still not been set presently.

In my opinion, the officials of the county and the state of California should set their policy of protecting people n La Conchita from mudslides. They should have plans for handling emergency situation that could happen at any time. Although they have many discussions about possible disasters, discussion alone is not enough for the residents. The residents in this dangerous area want more discussion. The county should provide a map that shows the water flow that can cause mudslides or a information guide book about mudslide awareness.

In addition, the county should set up the necessary equipment to warn people in this dangerous area, such as, a big horn and a warning lighthouse. That would be very important for people in the area because they would know when a disaster is occuring and they could prepare themselves for evacuation. The government should also educate the people in the risk area about mudslides and how to prepare for a bad situation like this.

Finally, the county should have measures to support people after a disaster happens. They should take care not only of physical aspects of the residents but also mental aspects, too. After we lose someone we love or our property, we feel down. If the government has anyway to provide emergency counseling after mudslide disasters, I think they should provide this. Giving money to disaster victims is one way that can help these victims, but I think giving them protection policies would help them feel better.

No one wants to face a disaster like this. But this situation is a natural disaster that we cannot alter. The best thing that we can do is learn how to live with natural disasters and learn how to protect ourselves from disasters.

Rising, G. (2006, January 8). California coastal town fears replay of mudslide that killed 10 people. Associated Press. Retrieved from Lexis-Nexis database, May 31, 2006.

Diagnostic Essay

LA Air Pollution Doubles Chance of Cancer

In the article “LA Air Pollution Doubles Chance of Cancer”, a national environmental group reports that Los Angeles faces to the air pollution troubles that can cause the risk of cancer. These consequences have especially effected infants and children. The effort of the researchers is to measure the rest of the chemical substances in California and use the collected data to predict the risk of cancer that can happen in infants and children. The result is when the children in the polluted area get older, they will have more risk of cancer. Then U.S. Federal regulators will discuss stricter regulations for these problems. On the other hand, the opponents don’t agree with this view because they think that the old regulations provide enough protection for human health. The present work is setting in place the new regulations would that reduce chemicals used in LA by using cleaner fuels, such as natural gas.

First of all, I think human health is a very important problem that we have to care about and emphasize in our children and infants. They will grow up to be the important part of our society. According to the studies, we have toxic air that caused cancer more than “400 times” what is normal in children. This is way over the allowed limit set by the EAP and the children between “3 and 5 years” accumulate a 14-in-a-million opportunity to getting cancer. These studies show us that we have to realize problems about air pollution and should not abandon the facts that have happened because these problems are involved and effect our lives. But on the other side, the opponents think they have their reasonable agruments. They suggest that the existing regulations about air pollution are appropriate . Possibly they don’t think that the calculated risk of cancer in the report is reasonable, or they may not be worried about the problems of cancer. The world still has to move around as same as usual and we need to use the chemicals.

Although we have different opinions, it does not mean that we cannot come to an agreement. In my opinion, we should make the regulation that can be accepted from both sides. We should separate the margin point in each case. For example, in areas that have many children such as school districts, and hospitals including living areas, the margin point should be stricter than the industrial areas. But we must not forget about the industries that are near the water sources, too. Anyway, cleaner energy is still a good idea for everyone. If we choose sustainable resources, it will be better.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

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