Jacobs, L., Dewitte, O., Poesen, J., Maes, J., Mertens, K., Sekajugo, J. & Kervyn, K. 2017. ‘Landslide characteristics and spatial distribution in the Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda’. Journal of African Earth Sciences 134: 917-930. DOI: 10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2016.05.013. I.F. 1.420.
Article in a scientific Journal / Article in a Journal
In many landslide-prone regions, data on landslide characteristics remain poor or inexistent. This is also the case for the Rwenzori Mountains, located on the border of Uganda and the DR Congo. There, landslides frequently occur and cause fatalities and substantial damage to private property and infrastructure. In this paper, we present the results of a field inventory performed in three representative study areas covering 114 km2. A total of 371 landslides were mapped and analyzed for their geomorphological characteristics and their spatial distribution. The average landslide areas varied from less than 0.3 ha in the gneiss-dominated highlands to >1 ha in the rift alluvium of the lowlands. Large landslides (>1.5 ha) are well represented while smaller landslides (<1.5 ha) are underrepresented. The degrees of completeness of the field inventories are comparable to those of similar historical landslide inventories. The diversity of potential mass movements in the Rwenzori is large and depends on the dominant lithological and topographic conditions. A dominance of shallow translational soil slides in gneiss and of deep rotational soil slides in the rift alluvium is observed. Slope angle is the main controlling topographic factor for landslides with the highest landslide concentrations for slope angles above 25–30° in the highlands and 10–15° in the lowlands. The undercutting of slopes by rivers and excavations for construction are important preparatory factors. Rainfall-triggered landslides are the most common in the area, however in the zones of influence of the last two major earthquakes (1966: Mw = 6.6 and 1994: Mw = 6.2), 12 co-seismic landslides were also observed.