What is it, you may be wondering? Mass wasting (aka mass movement) is what happens when big masses of rock and sediment fall down a slope. It is caused by gravity primarily, but it also can occur because of heavy rainfall and mudslides. Mass movement is important because it carries sediment from higher up, to a lower elevation, and the loose material is then able to be carried to other areas by streams or glaciers. It is an important part of assisting erosion, but it can also have some harmful effects.
Sometimes, if mass wasting happens very suddenly, it can be devastating. It can affect human lives by damaging homes and people living on slopes. When rock and sediments fall rapidly down a hillside or slope, it is often referred to as a landslide. A landslide is just a more specific term for a type of mass movement. One way that humans have influenced landslides is by using irrigation. Irrigating on steep slopes can be dangerous because it makes the land especially unstable by adding extra moisture to the ground. Secondly, mining or “blasting” on hillsides is very risky because the sound waves increases the likelihood of mass wasting.
In order to keep ourselves safe, it is necessary to know some of the basics of mass wasting/mass movement. By educating yourself, no matter what the subject, you are equipping yourself with valuable knowledge to help you make wise decisions in the future.