Increased incidence of landslides in 2012

Rainfall and landslide frequency in the UK for 2012.

On 3 January 2013, the Met Office released its annual statistics for 2012 showing that it was the second wettest year in the UK since national records began in 1910 (2000 saw just 6.6 mm more rainfall).

Rainfall records show that 2012 was the wettest year for England and the third wettest for Wales.

Analysis carried out by the Met Office shows that the UK is experiencing more extreme rainfall events and that this is likely to be linked to climate change.

The BGS Landslides Team have been monitoring the media and scientific literature for reports of landslides since 2006 and recording them in the BGS National Landslide Database.

The increased rainfall has resulted in a significant increase in the numbers of landslides and slope failures (landslides on man-made slopes such as railway embankments), particularly during the months of July and December.

We are still receiving new landslide reports and processing the data, but initial figures indicate that there was a four- to five-fold increase in the number of landslides for July and December when compared with previous years.

Have you seen a landslide happen?

Please tell us about any British landslides you may have seen — Report a Landslide.

Recent UK landslides map

Why are landslides occurring now?

Landslides occurring after the recent periods of higher than average rainfall are likely to result from one or more of the following:

  • water loading of the slope
  • reduction in soil strength
  • removal of soil particles or other material changes in the slope

These recent landslides are mostly shallow failures in response to the extreme rainfall events; deeper-seated landslides have a longer response time reflecting the time taken for infiltrating water to reach the groundwater table — see How does BGS classify landslides?

Contact the Landslide Response Team

British Geological Survey
NG12 5GG
E-mail: Landslides team
Telephone: 0115 936 3143
Fax: 0115 936 3276