​S. Korea launches state project to create disaster risk map for land creep

By Park Sae-jin Posted : July 28, 2021, 17:23 Updated : July 28, 2021, 17:27

[Courtesy of the Korea Forest Service]

SEOUL -- South Korea will create a digital disaster risk map for land creeping, which is the slow downslope movement of soil layers due to the influence of groundwater and external impacts in the mountain slope. There were no latest figures, but some 35 land creep cases were reported in 2018.

While devastating landslides occur on the top layer of soil to sweep down the mountain slope at fast speeds, a land creep phenomenon literally takes place at a creeping speed. Trees and other infrastructure including buildings and roads are slowly damaged over many years by the slow-moving creep until there are not enough gravity and friction forces to hold layers of soil together. A land creep could cause a whole mountain slope to slide.

The Korea Forest Service (KFS) said in a statement on July 28 that the state mountain and forestation management body would create a digital danger map for land creeping using special algorithms and unmanned monitoring devices by 2024. The map will be used for the management and prevention of creeping. KSF will also set up guidelines for the prevention, management, and counteraction of land creeps. 

"We have investigated some 190,000 mountain slopes suspected of experiencing land creeps and picked about 20,000 places with high risks. We thoroughly monitor and investigate high-risk areas regularly," Kim Young-hyeok, a KSF official, told Aju Business Daily. Soil creeping can cause much more devastating damages to human lives and infrastructure than landslides, Kim said. "It's because the moving volume of soil layers and creeping is much larger than that of landslides."

Through a series of investigations in 2020, researchers categorized high land creep risk zones into three types -- A, B, and C. 39 slopes were categorized as A, the most dangerous areas, and 38 slopes were categorized as B, areas with a moderate risk of land creeps. 10 slopes were restored to prevent damages.
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