Coburg Hills scene of massive landslides in geologic history

Coburg Hills scene of massive landslides in geologic history »Play Video
Coburg Hills (Photo courtesy aboutmovies via Creative Commons)

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - The landslide in Snohomish County, Wash., killed a confirmed 14 people.

More than 100 people are still unaccounted for.

The slide that devastated Oso, Wash., is rare because of how much landed shifted and how fast it moved, experts say.

But landslides are a common geologic threat in Oregon, said Ian Madin, the chief scientist at the Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.

Madin said the slide in Washington state was an existing landslide that re-activated.

He said tens of thousands of similar landslides exist in the Cascade and Coast ranges of western Oregon.

The Willamette Valley is at risk as well. A few dozen landslides exist in the South Hills of Eugene alone.

And there's another place nearby that Madin describes as "very scary."

"Much of the front of the Coburg Hills to the north and east of Eugene is composed of a series of giant landslides, many of which have come all the way from the top of the mountain well out to the valley in events that would have been every bit destructive as what we saw in Washington," Madin said. "Fortunately, these happened hundreds or thousands of years ago, but there's no reason they couldn't happen today."

Madin said a number of things could cause a landslide to start to move, like heavy rainfall or disturbance from construction work.

To find hazards near you, visit the Oregon HazVu map and enter your address.