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Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, Parts A/B/C





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Mass movements of nearly all types occur in Afghanistan but in the high relief, rugged Pamir and Hindu Kush mountains of northeastern Afghanistan, mass-movement threats to lives and property necessitated study to elucidate problems to development. Twenty-two different mass movements in bedrock in the Badakhshan Province of northeastern Afghanistan were studied for this paper, including large rock falls and rock slides, along with massive slope-failure complexes with many types and rates of movement. Where higher altitudes prevail in the region, ice-cemented and ice-cored rock glaciers are also common and overlie some of the other mass movements. Inasmuch as seismic energy sources in the Eastern Hindu Kush are maximal in southern Badakhshan, and relief, slope angles and precipitation all increase from west to east as well, the causes of the pervasive mass movement are plentiful enough, although direct cause and slope-failure effect are not known. Some weak sedimentary lithologies downfaulted into, or draped across crystalline rocks, also failed. Some intermixed tills also occur but are not easily differentiated, even with analysis on the ground.

Using high resolution satellite imagery and digital elevation models, we assessed geomorphologic parameters to characterize spatial-organization structures related to zones of erosion, deposition and further hazard potential. Analyses indicate that many of the massive slope failures can be characterized and differentiated into various process domains and chronologic-development zones with their different impacts upon the landscape. Mass movements in Afghanistan can exhibit unique topographic signatures that can be used to better assess hazards in other mountain areas, especially where landslide-dam breakout floods threaten. Development of roads, bridges, buildings, and irrigation networks should be done with care in these regions of Afghanistan.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Elsevier in Physics and Chemistry of the Earth Parts A/B/C on March 23, 2011, available online:

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