Landslide inventory development in a data sparse region: spatial and temporal characteristics of landslides in Papua New Guinea
J. C. Robbins1 and M. G. Petterson21Met Office, Fitzroy Road, Exeter, Devon, UK 2Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Suva, Fiji
Received: 15 Jul 2015 – Accepted for review: 16 Jul 2015 – Discussion started: 17 Aug 2015
Abstract. In Papua New Guinea (PNG) earthquakes and rainfall events form the dominant trigger mechanisms capable of generating many landslides. Large volume and high density landsliding can result in significant socio-economic impacts, which are felt particularly strongly in the largely subsistence-orientated communities which reside in the most susceptible areas of the country. As PNG has undergone rapid development and increased external investment from mining and other companies, population and settled areas have increased, hence the potential for damage from landslides has also increased. Information on the spatial and temporal distribution of landslides, at a regional-scale, is critical for developing landslide hazard maps and for planning, sustainable development and decision making. This study describes the methods used to produce the first, country-wide landslide inventory for PNG and analyses of landslide events which occurred between 1970 and 2013. The findings illustrate that there is a strong climatic control on landslide-triggering events and that the majority (~ 61 %) of landslides in the PNG landslide inventory are initiated by rainfall related triggers. There is also large year to year variability in the annual occurrence of landslide events and this is related to the phase of El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and mesoscale rainfall variability. Landslide-triggering events occur during the north-westerly monsoon season during all phases of ENSO, but less landslide-triggering events are observed during drier season months (May to October) during El Niño phases, than either La Niña or ENSO neutral periods. This analysis has identified landslide hazard hotspots and relationships between landslide occurrence and rainfall climatology and this information can prove to be very valuable in the assessment of trends and future behaviour, which can be useful for policy makers and planners.
Robbins, J. C. and Petterson, M. G.: Landslide inventory development in a data sparse region: spatial and temporal characteristics of landslides in Papua New Guinea, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., 3, 4871-4917, doi:10.5194/nhessd-3-4871-2015, 2015.