Remote sensing of landslide-generated sediment plumes, Peace River, British Columbia




Hughes, Katie E.
Wild, Amanda
Kwoll, Eva
Geertsema, Marten
Perry, Alexandra
Harrison, K. Darcy

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Remote Sensing


Quantifying the contribution of sediment delivered to rivers by landslides is needed to assess a river’s sediment load in regions prone to mass wasting. Monitoring such events, however, remains difficult. This study utilised six years of remotely sensed imagery (PlanetScope and RapidEye, Imagery courtesy of Planet Labs, Inc., San Francisco, CA, USA), topographic surveys, and field observation to examine a hydro-geologically controlled, retrogressive landslide near a tributary to the Peace River, British Columbia. The slide has been active since 2014, delivering large amounts of sediment to the Peace River, visible in a persistent plume. Here, we quantify the landslide’s sediment contribution to the Peace River, assess the hydro-meteorological drivers of plume variability, and test whether plume activity can be directly linked to landslide activity for monitoring purposes. Our results show that the landslide on average delivered 165,000 tonnes of sediment per year, a seven-fold increase of the tributary’s regular load and near half of the Peace River’s load at this location. Due to continuous erosion of landslide material, sediment supply is steady and fuelled by repeated failures. Using thresholding, the identification of ‘high’ plume activity was possible, which positively correlated with the water level in a nearby reservoir, a proxy for the state of groundwater in this region. We reason that ‘high’ plume activity is linked to increased groundwater pressure because landslide activity is groundwater-controlled and failures fuel sediment delivery to the Peace River. Using readily available imagery, it is thus possible to monitor the activity of this recurrent landslide when field data are difficult to obtain.



landslide monitoring, plume detection, PlanetScope, RapidEye, suspended sediment


Hughes, K. E., Wild, A., Kwoll, E., Geertsema, M., Perry, A., & Harrison, K. D. (2021). “Remote sensing of landslide-generated sediment plumes, Peace River, British Columbia.” Remote Sensing, 13(23), 4901.