New research on landslide dams



Anja Dufresne

Senior Scientist


+49 241 80 96779



New Research on landslide dams

Project term: 2016 and ongoing

á Landslide Copyright: LIH A retrogressive landslide in the Peace River Region, British Columbia, Canada blocked a small river and continues to deliver high sediment loads to the river network.

Large landslides are common occurrences in all mountainous regions, such as the glacially carved Ítz Valley in Tyrol (Austria) or where rivers dissect the landscape in the rolling plains of the Peace River region in British Columbia (Canada). They can fully block a valley, dam the river and create lakes that may persist for decades to millennia. Landslide dams in these two regions range in age from the Young Dryas to recent, in material from crystalline rock to glacial till, and in longevity from months to millennia. These two regions served to study the longevity of landslide dams, to test stability criteria in different materials and settings, and to investigate their long-term landscape impacts (Dufresne et al. 2018; Miller et al. 2018).

In addition to such regional studies, a world-wide team of experts headed by Prof. Dr. Xuanmei Fan (State Key Laboratory, Chengdu University, China) and Dr. Anja Dufresne (RWTH University Aachen) currently reviews the state of the art of landslide dam research and compiles a comprehensive database on landslide dams. Two papers are in preparation for publication in Earth-Science Reviews.


  • Fan X, Dufresne A, Subramanian SS, Strom A, Hermanns R, Tacconi Stefanelli C, Hewitt K, Pulpadan YA, Dunning SA, Capra L, Geertsema M, Miller B, Casagli N (submitted). The formation and impact of landslide dams – state of the art. Earth-Science Reviews
  • Dufresne A, Ostermann MA, Preusser F (2018). River-damming, late-Quaternary rockslides in the Ítz Valley region (Tyrol, Austria). Geomorphology 310: 153-167.
  • Miller BGN, Dufresne A, Geertsema M, Atkinson N, Evensen H, Cruden DM (2018). Longevity of dams from landslides with sub-channel rupture surfaces, Peace River region, Canada. Geoenvironmental Disasters 5(1): doi.org/10.1186/s40677-017-0090-0