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Occurrence of landslides during the approach of tropical cyclone Juliette (2001) to Baja California Sur, Mexico

Author(s): J. L. ANTINAO | L. M. FARFÁN

Journal: Atmósfera
ISSN 0187-6236

Volume: 26;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 183;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: Tropical cyclone | eastern Pacific Ocean | Juliette | landslides | sediment transport

The approach of tropical cyclone (TC) Juliette, in 2001, to the Baja California Peninsula triggered at least 419 landslides. Most of the landslides were shallow slips and debris slides of limited areal extent, which were converted rapidly into debris flows to be exported quickly out of the mountain areas towards the lowlands. Main factors affecting landslide occurrence were total storm rainfall and intensity, aspect, geology and vegetation association. Two processes can be distinguished as initiating slope failure. Accumulation of rainfall from exposed bedrock slopes, generating excess overland flow, was the main process linked to failures in concave topography. A combination of wind and excess overland flow in the more convex or planar upper slopes was a secondary process related to heterogeneity of vegetation associations in the oak-dry tropical forests ecotone, as uprooted trees dislodged large regolith and bedrock blocks, priming hillslopes for further runoff concentration. An estimative threshold curve for triggering landslides in this region is sketched. From the analysis of historical information, storms like Juliette approach the southern peninsula on average onceevery 100 years. Denudation estimates are in the higher end of the spectrum for a tectonically passive margin. These estimates should be considered when taking decisions regarding management of water resources in this area through damming of streams. The results emphasize the need for a more detailed representation of the spatial distribution of the rainfall and winds for this mountainous region affected by TCs.
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