New landslide website provides critical hazard data for North Carolina communities

Raleigh, NC

The Department of Environmental Quality’s North Carolina Geological Survey (NCGS) has launched a new landslide website and GIS-based mapping tool to better inform communities about landslide hazards. NCGS, within the Division of Energy, Mineral, and Land Resources, worked with the National Environmental Modeling & Analysis Center at University of North Carolina Asheville on the project.

The Landslides in Western North Carolina Project website allows users to explore current and historical information about landslides in North Carolina. Users can access resources to help them plan for and build resilience to landslide hazards. The new “Western North Carolina Landslide Hazard Data Viewer” will make it easier for various audiences to access, interact with and understand landslide hazard data.

“This tool provides a wealth of information contributing to overall landslide knowledge and better preparation ahead of storms,” said Dr. Kenneth Taylor, State Geologist. “This will result in increased resiliency after the storms, and above all, improved safety levels.”

The publicly available website and viewer are designed for use by community planners, emergency management personnel, design consultants, educators and real estate professionals. NCGS’ currently published landslide inventory contains information on more than 4,500 landslides. Data is available for download and is updated as landslides occur in North Carolina.

The landslide team surveys and documents landslide locations and impact areas using a Geographical Information System (GIS) that combines satellite and aerial imagery, unmanned aerial vehicles and field work to produce the Data Viewer. The Viewer includes a current inventory of landslide points (where landslides started), landslide outlines (the approximate extent of individual slope movements) and landslide deposits (the extent of significant volumes of earth, debris and rock fragments that have accumulated due to past debris flows and debris slides, rock falls and rockslides), mapped and published by NCGS.

The tool also shows the Landslide Hazard Ranking, which displays areas ranked at moderate or high risk of landslide occurrence in response to an extreme precipitation event - typically more than 5 inches of rain over a 24-hour period - and identifies potential landslide initiation locations and flow pathways.

The viewer showcases the landslide inventory mapping progress from NCGS as authorized by the Hurricane Recovery Act of 2005. The new website features a Data Tour Guide describing the data produced by the landslide hazard mapping program and its contribution to increased understanding of landslide events in North Carolina. For more information, visit landslidesncgs.org.

The mission of the North Carolina Geological Survey is to provide unbiased and technically accurate applied earth science information to address societal needs. This includes geologic maps, mineral resource and geochemical information, topographic maps and digital products and earth science education initiatives. The agency examines, surveys and maps the geology, mineral resources and topography of the state, while encouraging the wise conservation and use of geologic resources by industry, commerce, agriculture and government for the general welfare of the citizens of North Carolina.  

UNC Asheville's National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center is an applied research center helping people make informed decisions in a complex and changing world. Located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, NEMAC connects federal data with real-world research, focusing in the areas of science communication, geospatial analysis, user research, remote sensing, and the development of resilience plans, software tools, data visualizations, training, and workshops. Their research aims to help society learn in the space that exists between where science is made and where it is used. 

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