(KING) The Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Washington is well positioned to study landslides, as landslides and fast moving slides known as lahars frequently accompany eruptions.
Therefore, it is no surprise that a unit of the U.S. Geological Survey is being relied on to contribute expertise on why and how the Oso landslide happened.
At the headquarters of the CVO one can see how the Oso landslide unfolded in animation from a sophisticated computer model that's taken 20 years to develop. The model can take information like the suspected volume of material (estimated at 10 million cubic yards in this case), take into account how mud flows - particularly when that mud is made of certain types of dirt and rock - and come up with an analysis of how the event happened.
"In this case, it would be like a wall of semi-trucks, shoulder to shoulder, a kilometer wide-- all moving at 60 miles per hour. That's how I picture it," said Dr. Richard Iverson, a landslide specialist at CVO.
He says that was an average - the specific speed at times could have been well above that.
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