Case Histories

Case History

The DeBeque Canyon landslide is a major landslide complex in western Colorado that has historically impacted the east-west highway and railway corridor on the Colorado River. Three significant reactivations or ground movements have occurred during the past century. The precise date of the first major movement is unknown but occurred in the late 1890’s or early 1900’s.


The “Rubble Zone” of the Debeque Canyon landslide. Photo by Jon White.

Case History

On July 22, 1996, a northwest portion of the alluvial fan at the base of Fairfield Gulch failed and, highly saturated with water, flowed through a 25-foot wide breach. The breach occurred in a cutbank where the White River had previously eroded into the distal portion of the fan.


This earthflow near Meeker occurred on July 22, 1996 and destroyed nearly 1.5 acres of pasture. Photo by Jon White.

In a matter of five hours an earth spread-earthflow (soil liquefaction with lateral and headward spreading) resulted in approximately 1.5 acres of pasture destroyed (below) and about the same amount of area, in the flood plain below the cut bank, covered by a fan of mud, quick-sand and rocks. The lateral scarp of the failure came within 36 feet of a residence, as shown in the photo below by Jon White.