Mariel Nelson

Exploring a shallow landsliding event with a multidimensional stability model

Shallow landslides are a primary method of sediment transport and a dominant hillslope erosion process in many steep, soil-mantled landscapes. However, testing models that predict shallow landslide size and location is challenging due to a lack of high resolution datasets that map where landslides occurred following major storms. In February 2017, an intense rainfall event caused more than 400 shallow landslides at a field research site near Williams, California. This project will use a comprehensive landslide dataset that I created from field surveys over the past year to statistically analyze how successful a newly published model and search algorithm by Milledge et al. (2014) and Bellugi et al. (2015) are at predicting the size and location of landslides that occurred at this site. Testing this model is essential for determining when the model is predictive and under what conditions the model fails, ultimately furthering our theoretical understanding of the processes that cause shallow landsliding.

Message to Sponsor

Sponsorship of my summer research projects from the Rose Hills Foundation has driven my development as a scientist. My two projects studying landslides in Northern California became my honors thesis and, now that I've graduated, part of my full-time job in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science. I presented last summer's research at an international geoscience conference in December 2017, where I met professors who may be my future PhD advisors. I am immensely grateful that undergraduate research is advocated for and actively funded on the Berkeley campus because it required me to engage with faculty and graduate students as well as utilize research methods from my coursework. I also grew to love Earth science in the process. Thank you for giving me this opportunityit was integral to my education and I will benefit from it for the rest of my career.
  • Major: geophysics
  • Sponsor: Rose Hills Independent
  • Mentor: Bill Dietrich