A review of Landslides, Slumps, & Creeps by Robert Goodwin

Reviewed by Molly Martin

Landslides, Slumps, & Creeps
by Peter Goodwin
Series: First Books–Earth & Sky Science
Franklin Watts
Paperback: 64 pages, ISBN-13: 978-0531158975

Landslides, slumps, & Creeps by Robert Goodwin is a A First Book designed for the middle grade set. Slides on Giant Mountain discusses the June 1962, Keene Valley, New York State slides, 15 major slides on the face of the mountain following a steady downpour. The author explains his interest in part results in his seeing the results of the slides as a child. The landslides on Giant Mountain are examples of mass wasting. Mass Wasting is the downward movement of rock and soil, often mixed with water. Goodwin explains that when the movement is rapid it can be especially dangerous because they catch people unaware. Goodwin goes on to explain slump and creep, other types of mass wasting. Slumps tend to move short distances and to pile up at the bottom. Creep takes place slowly moving ½ inch or so over a year, this is the type of activity most noticeable when gazing across a fence, cemetery or tree row and the fence posts, gravestones or trees are leaning downhill.

Chapter two goes into greater detail to explain the many categories of separate types of mass wasting and slides, creep, slumps and avalanches. Large pictures are added throughout the work, these are in color and really illustrate the creep, slide or whatever is being discussed. Chapter 3 looks at causes for Mass Wasting. Water is often causal with creep, slide and slump. Hardened mud, rock strata, erosion caused by ocean waves are all pictured to show clearly and easily for young readers. Climate, people, result of fire, result of construction can all contribute to mass wasting. Road cuts in particular can lead to Watch for Falling Rock signs.

Chapter 4 lists several Historic Landslides including the 1980 Mount Saint Helens slide following the eruption of the volcano. In early 1925 a large landslide occurred in Wyoming, so much dirt and rock slid off the mountain and dammed the Gros Ventre River. Nearly 2 years later when the dam broke the town of Kelly was destroyed but was rebuilt later. Two towns were destroyed in 1970 in Peru when an earthquake broke loose a huge block of ice on Mount Huascaran. Nearly 2,000 people were killed in Ranrahirca, however a part of the slide went over a ridge, landed on the town of Yungay where 17,000 people died and mud covered the town leaving only the church steeple appearing above the mud.  In 1826 the Crawford Notch New Hampshire Landslide in the White Mountains buried a family as they ran from their house. The irony of the situation was, the slide split just above the house, house was untouched. Oxen in the barn were safe, however, the family was gone. The scar of the slide is still visible on the face of the mountain. The Vaiont Dam Landslide in 1963 is mentioned and has a full page, black and white photo of the slide, 1959 following an earthquake in Montana the side of a mountain fell into the river valley where debris formed what was later named Earthquake Lake. A view of that Earthquake Lake, in color, shows a beautiful area.

Chapter 5 addresses Preventing Mass Wasting construction sites in flat surfaces have less mass wasting, however, on side of mountain it is difficult to prevent mass wasting. Risky areas can be identified. Avalanches often follow the same tracks year after year. Core samples to analyze soil types can be taken prior to construction. Geologists look at rock layers when determining chances an area will slide. Techniques for preventing mass wasting are discussed including shelters can be constructed to protect roads from frequent avalanches, gabions, wire baskets filled with or cement walls constructed on hillsides help hold the soil in place. To prevent large rocks from falling onto roads from cliffs crews may use large bolts to hold the rocks in place, or, terraces or steps may be cut into the hillside. Rocks will fall, but will land on the steps rather than rolling on down the roadway.

Mass wasting due to erosion often appears where moving water is present. Waves along the shore continue to make the shoreline steeper. Rip Rap is one method for containing erosion along the shoreline. Often placed near bridges rip rap are large rocks set to help stabilize the shore. The two page glossary begins with bond and continues to send with surface tension. The terms explained will help the middle grade – YA reader better understand some of the terms used.

While this book is not one most first grade students might read, the pictures added to the text, news accounts on television and recent tremors we have experienced in Oklahoma have heightened Osage County First Grade interest in all things to do with earth movements, slumps, slides, quakes and all.The book presents opportunities for discussion, and is helping to ease the worry my students have begun to develop.

The writing is clear, to the point, well developed and easy to read, and is interesting to boot. Reader interest is held from first page to the last.

Reviewed by: Molly Martin