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Ministry of Energy Mines and Responsible for Core Review

Where Do Landslides Occur?

Some areas of British Columbia are more susceptible to landslides than others because
of their unique geological conditions:

 

B.C. Physiographic Regions

The sedimentary rocks of the Skeena Mountains are the most prone to large slumps and shallow slides in the province.

 

Debris flows and torrents often occur in the humid west coast of Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands within the Insular Mountains.

 

Dormant volcanic centres in the Coast Mountains (e.g., Mt. Garibaldi) are susceptible to rock and debris avalanches and flows.

 

Thick clay and silt-rich glacial sediments in the Northeastern Plateau are prone to soil creep and are frequently undercut by rivers, which results in slumps.

 

The steeply dipping beds of sedimentary rocks in the Rocky Mountains are prone to rock slides, topples, falls and avalanches.

The Interior Plateau contains weathered volcanic rock and glaciolacustrine sediments that are particularly susceptible to creep, slumping and sliding.

 

Metamorphic rocks in the Columbia Mountains are prone to rock slides and slumps.

Population centres and transportation routes in British Columbia are exposed to a great variety
of landslides.

Williams Lake: undercut slope
This structure near Williams Lake received considerable damage in 1992 from undercutting of the slope (photo courtesy of the Ministry of Health).
Spences Bridge Slide
The Spences Bridge Slide dammed the Thompson River in 1905 and is typical of other slides in the Interior Plateau (photo courtesy of the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks).

Historical Landslides in British Columbia
Date Name/Location Type Comments
1855-56 Rubble Creek/Garibaldi (The Barrier) Rock avalanches 30 million cubic metres of rock dislodged
1880 Haney Slide Clay slide Displacement wave 12 metres high created by the slide caused 1 death
1888 Ashcroft Silt slide 15 million cubic metre slide blocked Thompson River for 2 days
1898 Big Slide/Quesnel Sediment slump-flow Damaged homes, farms and a highway
1905 Spences Bridge/Thompson River Silt slump Resulting wave caused 18 deaths
1914 Hell's Gate/Thompson River Rock fall Millions of dollars in lost fish stocks and in repair of fish migration corridor
1915 Jane Camp/Britannia Mine Rock avalanche 200 000 cubic metres of rock; 56 deaths
1921 Britannia Creek/Howe Sound Debris torrent 37 deaths
1931 Meager Creek/Pemberton Debris flow Glacial dam burst, over 5 million cubic metres of water and debris
1957 Prince Rupert Debris flow Debris 17 metres thick; 7 deaths
1965 Hope Slide Rock slide British Columbia's largest rock slide; 4 deaths
1968 Camp Creek/Revelstoke Debris torrent 76 000 cubic metres of debris; 4 deaths
1970 Summerland Silt fall 1 death
1971 Boston Bar/Fraser River Slump Train derailed in slump; 3 deaths
1972 Sparwood Debris flow Mine waste movement; 2 deaths
1973 Attachie Slide/Fort St. John Clay slump Over 24 million cubic metres of sediment
1973 & 1975 Port Alice Debris torrent 2 events, 22 000 cubic metres
1975 Devastation Glacier Rock avalanche 13 million cubic metres; 4 deaths
1981 M Creek/Howe Sound Debris torrent 20 000 cubic metres of debris; 10 deaths
1983 Alberta Creek/Howe Sound Debris torrent 15 000 cubic metres of debris; 2 deaths
1990 Philpott Road/Kelowna Debris flow Heavy rain; 3 deaths
Ongoing Wahleach/Lower Fraser Valley Creep 60 million cubic metres, $25 million on engineering controls
Ongoing Downie/Revelstoke Rock slide, slump Millions spent to control more than 2 billion cubic metres of rock
Attachie Slide
The Attachie slide of May 26, 1973 west of Fort St. John dammed the Peace River for approximately 10 hours (photo courtesy of Thurber Engineering Ltd.)
Big Slide, Quesnel
In 1898, the Big Slide of Quesnel destroyed homes, farms and part of a highway (photo courtesy of the Ministry of Transportation and Highways).

 

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Landslides in British Columbia was originally produced as Information Circular 1993-7 by the BC Geological Survey of the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources in cooperation with the B.C. Ministry of Health, the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Highways, the B.C. Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, the B.C. Ministry of Forests, the B.C. Provincial Emergency Program, and with the assistance of the Geological Survey of Canada.

Copies are available from:
Publications Office,

BC Geological Survey