Regional trends and controlling factors of fatal landslides in Latin America and the Caribbean

A new data set of landslides that caused loss of life in Latin America and the Caribbean in the 10-year period from 2004 and 2013 inclusive has been compiled, providing new insight into the impact of landslides in this key part of the world. This data set indicates that in the 10-year period a total of 11 631 people lost their lives across the region in 611 landslides. The geographical distribution of the landslides is highly heterogeneous, with areas of high incidence in parts of the Caribbean (most notably Haiti), Central America, Colombia, and southeast Brazil. There is significant interannual variation in the number of landslides, with the El Niño/La Niña cycle emerging as a key control. Our analysis suggests that on a continental scale the mapped factors that best explain the observed distribution are topography, annual precipitation and population density. On a national basis we have compared the occurrence of fatality-inducing landslide occurrence with the production of locally authored research articles, demonstrating that there is a landslide research deficit in Latin America and the Caribbean. Understanding better the mechanisms, distribution causes and triggers of landslides in Latin America and the Caribbean must be an essential first step towards managing the hazard.

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