Mass Movement

 Mass Movement: The downslope movement of material propelled by gravity. Any material at

rest on a slope has potential energy (stored energy), while any material in motion has kinetic energy (energy actually in the process of being released).

A. Factors Leading to Mass Movement

1. Oversteepening of Slope: Slope refers to a tilted land surface. Above a

certain degree of steepness (which depends on what the slope is made of), the slope is said to be oversteepened and is prone to mass movement.

a) Natural Causes of Oversteepening

(i) Mountain Building

(ii) Reverse Faulting

(iii) Glacial Erosion

(iv) Fluvial Erosion (Rivers and Streams)

(v) Coastal Erosion (Waves)

b) Human Causes of Oversteepening

(i) Roadbuilding

(ii) Construction

2. Loose/Weak Slope Materials: Loose (or unconsolidated) materials become

oversteepened at lower angles, while hard bedrock can maintain stability at higher angles. Weathering (discussed previously) causes rock to become loose and weak! As such, highly weathered materials are prone to mass movement.

3. Saturation of Slope Materials

a) Water lubricates

b) Water adds weight

4. Earthquakes and Heavy Construction: Sudden shaking or vibration can

initiate movement.

Road Cut

(note oversteepening)

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