A landslide is a natural disaster severely affecting human life and the environment. Landslides occur when rock, earth, or debris moves down a slope. It can be caused by several factors, including heavy rainfall, earthquakes, volcanic events, and human activities such as deforestation and non-standard construction. The instability of soil and rock layers in a slope due to these factors can cause landslides.
In May 2014, a landslide in Ab Barik village of Badakhshan Province, Afghanistan, buried around 300 residential houses under soil and mud. According to the UN office in Kabul, 350 people have died due to this incident, and the fate of more than two thousand people is unknown. In addition, landslides in Afghanistan claim tens of victims every year.
Informing people can be one of the most essential measures to ensure their safety against landslides. What are the causes of landslides in Afghanistan, what methods can be used to control it, and what measures can be taken to minimize the amount of damage and the number of casualties caused by it, we will discuss it in this article.
Landslides may be caused by various factors such as earthquakes, the presence of surface and underground water, etc. The critical factors of landslides are presented below:
- Heavy rain: when the soil is saturated with water, it becomes heavier and loses its strength, causing it to slide down a slope. One of the most common types of landslides occurs in mud layers. Since the porosity of these stones is high, they absorb water due to rainfall, and their weight becomes much higher.
- Earthquake: The shaking of the ground during an earthquake can cause the soil or rock to become unstable and slide down the slope.
- Volcanic situation: Volcanic eruptions cause landslides due to the release of hot gases, ash, and rock fragments, which can destabilize the surrounding slopes.
- Erosion: The gradual erosion of soil or rock due to natural processes such as wind and water can make slopes unstable and prone to landslides.
- Human activities: construction and mining can change the land's natural slope, weakening the soil or rock's stability and exposing it to landslides.
Landslide control methods
Many works have been done in different countries to find ways to control, reduce, and prevent landslides. But not much success has been achieved in this regard so far. According to the type of masses and their structure, different preventions for landslides have been suggested:
- Insulation of seams and cracks: insulation and injection of cement in seams and cracks is one of the most common methods to prevent landslides. Since Afghanistan has seen many cases of landslides, to use this method, it is necessary to first identify the main channels of water penetration in the slippery mass and then divert the water to another path by building a channel and creating a tunnel. Injecting cement into seams and other cracks and insulating or plasticizing the seams may be very effective.
- Support buildings: the primary purpose of all designs is to prevent the movement of slippery masses. To build successful retaining walls, it is necessary to know precisely the amount of force against which a stable barrier must be created.
- Reducing the slope: If the structure of the area is soil and the calculations indicate the instability of the slope in the area, the following appropriate solutions should be considered as reducing the slope until it reaches a certain level (less than 35 degrees), reducing and Removing the excess load from the slope, increasing the soil resistance by reducing the amount of water by extracting water and increasing evaporation methods, creating more resistance by planting trees and creating a forest, which consists of the growth of vegetation with a dense and tangled root system, which is sustainable Bare domains will be helpful.
- Iron nails, concrete, bolts, and nuts: this method is widespread in areas with solid and large stone masses. After detecting the lump or slippery object, they pierce it and nail it to the larger, more stable object behind it to prevent it from sliding.
- Jalikari (Gabion mesh): this method is mainly used in areas that have piles and loose stones or pebbles. At first, concrete iron nails are hammered where it has more strength and stability, and then curve skewers are thrown grid-likely on the sloping bare surface.
Despite all this, it is impossible to prevent the risk of landslides 100%. Therefore, it is necessary to vacate the areas with a risk of landslides and prevent building construction up to a radius of at least one kilometer.
What should be done in the event of a landslide?
During a landslide, it is essential to take the following steps:
- If you are indoors, move to a safe area away from windows, doors, and exterior walls.
- If you are outdoors, move to a clear area away from trees, buildings, and power lines.
- If you are driving, pull over to the side of the road and stay in the vehicle until the landslide clears.
- Listen for any unusual sounds that may indicate a landslide.
- Be prepared to evacuate quickly if necessary.
- Avoid walking or driving through flash floods or debris flows.
- After the slide is over, stay away from the affected area until it is deemed safe by local authorities.
Adverse effects of landslides on humans
Most landslides happen all at once, but sometimes landslides can occur in several stages during which different parts of the earth slide on top of each other. Landslides, in any way, disrupt the existing conditions in the region, mainly when they occur in essential areas such as highways, transportation routes, valleys, and reservoirs of water diversion dams.
The speed of this movement is not the same in different landslides. It may be slow, so conventional devices cannot register it, and the impact of such landslides is felt after several years. It may be so sudden that it threatens the security of the entire region; This phenomenon rarely occurs in nature and is usually caused by an earthquake.
Landslides can have several adverse effects on humans, including:
- Loss of life: Landslides can be fatal and cause people to be trapped under the debris.
- Financial damage: Landslides can damage or destroy buildings, roads, and other infrastructures and cause significant economic losses.
- Migration: Landslides can force people to evacuate their homes and communities, which leads to moving from their original area and moving to other areas temporarily or permanently.
- Environmental damage: Landlides can cause soil erosion, deforestation, and long-term environmental changes.
- Economic effects: Landslides can destroy transportation routes and cause problems in the local economy, especially in areas that rely on agriculture and land management.
- Psychological impact: Landslides can cause significant psychological distress to injured people, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Remember that landslides can be unpredictable and dangerous, so it's essential to stay alert and follow the instructions of local authorities. Early warning systems can alert people to potential landslides and give them time to evacuate and other safety measures.
What is the difference between a landslide and an earthquake?
Landslides occur on the earth's surface and have a small geographical extent. While the earthquake occurs in the lower levels of the earth, it has a greater geographical depth and breadth. Earthquake is one of the causes of landslides.
In general, it can be said that a landslide is the movement of a massive piece of rock or soil from one place to another or from a higher to a lower height under the direct or indirect influence of the earth's gravity.
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