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Predicting Slope Stability from Aerial Photos

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Tests in southern California suggest that debris slides are concentrated within areas where they have occurred before, and that these areas are identifiable in photographs. Approximately 44 inches of precipitation fell on the Santa Ynez-San Raphael Mountains during January 1969, causing severe slides. Evidence of slides was found on 1968 prestorm aerial photos for about 20 percent of a 6.2-square-mile test area. Slides identified on 1969 poststorm photos covered 6.6 percent of the test area; 81 percent of this activity was confined to areas previously mapped as inherently unstable. Similar accuracy was achieved on another area by a novice using diagnostic guides developed for the earlier test. That success indicates that slope stability can be identified by foresters.
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Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Principal Hydrologist, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station, USDA Forest Service, Berkeley, California, Stationed at Arcata, California

Publication date: 1979-03-01

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  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.

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