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The Oso landslide was one of the biggest land displacements in United States history that did not directly involve seismic activity. On March 22, 2014 at 10:37 Pacific Daylight Time, about 10 million cubic yards of land displaced from a slope above the Stillaguamish River in Snohomish County, Washington. Within two minutes, part of the town of Oso was buried in mud, and over 40 people perished in the disaster, with two people still missing. The USGS computer simulation determined that the hill was unstable due to above average rainfall in the area. According to Mark Leberfinger of AccuWeather.com, Everett, a larger town approximately 30 miles southwest of Oso, “had 5.64 inches of rain as of Friday, March 21, 2014,” the day before the landslide, or “261 percent of normal.” Most high-elevation regions in the Western United States are prone to landslides if the ground is oversaturated.
The hills overlooking the Stillaguamish River are also extremely prone to landslides; this is not the first major landslide to occur in the region, although it is the largest. In 1999, the Hazel Landslide occurred on an unstable hill cut out by the Stillaguamish. Other major landslides occurred in 1960 and 1967, and deforestation/defoliation was considered the primary culprit. Soils in the region are composed of sand with little to no consolidation and silts that are extremely weak with little cohesion. At the time of the Oso landslide, the hill which eventually displaced was over 50 meters high and composed of the same types of soils sampled at Hazel....
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