Here’s a picture of a recent landslide that took out a gravel road south of Greers Ferry Lake in north central Arkansas. Landslides are one of the natural phenomenon that earth scientists refer to as geohazards. It’s impossible to predict where and when a landslide will occur, but there are known conditions that make certain landscapes more prone to sliding.
In Arkansas, conditions that can lead to landslides include steep slopes, and poorly cohesive soil or bedrock – such as shale or alluvium. Land where vegetation has been cleared is also more likely to fail. Many landslides occur after periods of prolonged heavy rainfall, though that’s a factor that can’t be avoided. One of the best ways to determine if an area is prone to landslides is to look for evidence of past slides; If slopes have failed in the past, it’s likely they will fail again.
If you are developing property or are looking at property to purchase, you should consider whether it is in a landslide prone area. You can always contact a friendly geologist at the Arkansas Geological Survey and ask them their opinion.
This is a picture of sandstone and shale of the Maumelle chaotic zone that outcrops along highway 10 west of North Little Rock, Arkansas. The Maumelle chaotic zone is part of the Jackfork Formation which forms the bedrock around much of the Little Rock area. The chaotic zone is called that because of the disarray the rock is in there. In the example above, broken blocks of sandstone are interspersed with disorganized shale beds that have been rolled, squashed and otherwise deformed (rock hammer at center is for scale). The rocks weren’t deposited this way but were originally organized into horizontal beds on a deep-water ocean slope. Before they could be hardened into solid rock, the slope failed and the beds were transported down hill in a massive submarine landslide.
Note: Other interpretations for this zone have been proffered. The author of this blog prefers the above interpretation.
For more views of the Maumelle chaotic zone click here