28 Jun 2022
28 Jun 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Earthquake-induced landslides in Haiti: analysis of seismotectonic and possible climatic influences

Hans-Balder Havenith1, Kelly Guerrier2, Romy Schlögel1,3, Anika Braun4, Sophia Ulysse2,5, Anne-Sophie Mreyen6, Karl-Henry Victor2, Newdeskarl Saint-Fleur2, Léna Cauchie1, Dominique Boisson2, and Claude Prépetit5 Hans-Balder Havenith et al.
  • 1University of Liege, Department of Geology, Georisk and Environment, Liege, 4000, Belgium
  • 2Université d’Etat d’Haïti, Faculté des Sciences, LMI-CARIBACT, URGéo, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
  • 3Centre Spatial de Liège, Liege, 4000, Belgium
  • 4TU Berlin, Faculty VI Planning Building, Environment Department of Engineering Geology, Berlin, 1587, Germany
  • 5Unité Technique de Sismologie, Bureau des Mines et de l’Energie, Port-au-Prince, Delmas 31, Haiti
  • 6University of Liege, Department of Urban & Environmental Engineering, Applied Geophysics, Liege, 4000, Belgium

Abstract. First analyses of landslide distribution and triggering factors are presented for the region affected by the August, 14, 2021, earthquake (Mw=7.2) in the Nippes Department, Haiti. Landslide mapping was mainly carried out by comparing pre- and post-event remote imagery (~0.5–1-m resolution) available on Google Earth Pro® and Sentinel-2 (10-m resolution) satellite images. The first covered about 50 % of the affected region (for post-event imagery and before completion of the map in January 2022), the latter were selected to cover the entire potentially affected zone. On the basis of the completed landslide inventory, comparisons are made with catalogues compiled by others both for the August 2021 and the January 2010 seismic events, including one open inventory (by the United States Geological Survey) that was also used for further statistical analyses. Additionally, we studied the pre-2021 earthquake slope stability conditions. These comparisons show that the total number of landslides mapped for the 2021 earthquake (7091) is larger than the one recently published by another research team for the same event, but it is also clearly smaller than the one observed by two other research teams for the 2010 earthquake (e.g., 23,567, for the open inventory). However, these apparently fewer landslides triggered in 2021 cover much wider areas of slopes (>80 km2) than those induced by the 2010 event (~25 km2 – considering the open inventory). A simple statistical analysis indicates that the lower number of 2021-landslides can be explained by the missing detection of the smallest landslides triggered in 2021, partly due to the lower resolution imagery available for most of the areas affected by the recent earthquake; this is also confirmed by an inventory completeness analysis based on size-frequency statistics. The much larger total area of landslides triggered in 2021, compared to the 2010 earthquake, can be related to different physical reasons: a) the larger earthquake magnitude in 2021; b) the more central location of the fault segment that ruptured in 2021 with respect to coastal zones; c) and possible climatic preconditioning of slope instability in the 2021-affected area. These observations are supported by (1) a new pre-2021 earthquake landslide map, (2) rainfall distribution maps presented for different periods (including October 2016 – when Hurricane Matthew had crossed the western part of Haiti), covering both the 2010 and 2021 affected zones, as well as (3) shaking intensity prediction maps.

Hans-Balder Havenith et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on nhess-2022-176', Anonymous Referee #1, 20 Jul 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Hans-Balder Havenith, 05 Aug 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on nhess-2022-176', Anonymous Referee #2, 01 Aug 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Hans-Balder Havenith, 05 Aug 2022

Hans-Balder Havenith et al.

Hans-Balder Havenith et al.


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Short summary
We present a new landslide inventory for the 2021, M=7.2, Haiti, earthquake. We compare characteristics of this inventory with those of the 2010 seismically induced landslides, highlighting the much larger total area of 2021 landslides. This fact could be related to the larger earthquake magnitude in 2021, the more central location of the fault segment ruptured in 2021 with respect to coastal zones, and/or to possible climatic preconditioning of slope failures in the 2021-affected area.