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    Author(s): D.N. Swanston
    Date: 1974
    Source: Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-021. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 19 p
    Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (1.70 MB)


    Natural soil-mass-movements on forested slopes in the Western United States can be divided into two major groups of closely related landslide types. These include, in order of decreasing importance and regional frequency of occurrence: (1) debris slides, debris avalanches, debris flows, and debris torrents; and (2) creep, slumps, and earth flows. Each type requires the presence of steep slopes, frequently in excess of the angle of soil stability. All characteristically occur under high soil moisture conditions and usually develop or are accelerated during periods of abnormally high rainfall. Further, all are encouraged or accelerated by destruction of the natural mechanical support on the slopes. As forest operations shift to steeper slopes, they play an increasing role in initiation and acceleration of soil mass movements. The logging operation itself is a major contributor through (1) destruction of roots, the natural mechanical support of slope soils, (2) disruption of surface vegetation cover which alters soil water distribution, and (3) obstruction of main drainage channels by logging debris, Road building stands out at the present time as the most damaging operation with soil failures resulting largely from slope loading (from road fill and sidecasting), oversteepened bank cuts, and inadequate provision for slope and road drainage. At the present time attempts at prevention and control are limited to identification and avoidance of highly unstable areas and development and implementation of timber harvesting techniques least damaging to natural slope stability.

    Publication Notes

    • Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
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    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Swanston, D.N. 1974. Slope stability problems associated with timber harvesting in mountainous regions of the western United States. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-021. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 19 p


    soil stability, soil erosion

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