Skip to main content
Select Source:

Mass Movement

Mass movement

Mass movement refers to the downslope movement of soil, regolith , or rock under the influence of gravity and without the aid of a transporting medium such as water, ice , or air. The term is synonymous with mass wasting and stands in contrast to mass transport, in which the same kinds of material are transported by water, ice, or air.

Mass movement can occur by a variety of processes including landsliding in all of its forms, creep , and solifluction. Rates of mass movement can range from a few millimeters per year in the case of creep or solifluction to tens of meters per second in the case of catastrophic mass movements such as debris avalanches. Debris and mud (or earth) flows are generally considered to be forms of mass movement because they are comprised primarily of solid material with only a small proportion of water.

Both mass movement and mass transport are naturally occurring processes that contribute to the cycle of tectonic uplift, erosion , transportation, and deposition of sediments. They are responsible for the topography of mountain ranges and river canyons that has developed over geologic time . Since the Industrial Revolution, however, humans have become increasingly significant agents of mass movement and transport. Catastrophic mass movements at Elm, Frank, and Vaiont were triggered by human activity on or near potentially unstable slopes; the failure of hydraulic structures such as Teton and St. Francis dams have produced major floods with great erosional power; and open pit mining involves the movement of cubic kilometers of material over decades of operation. Agriculture is also a large, but subtle contributor to mass movement, because exposed and tilled soil is much more easily eroded than that in its natural state. Recent estimates suggest that humans are currently responsible for the movement of about 37 billion tons of soil and rock per year, and that the cumulative amount of soil and rock moved by humans is the equivalent of a mountain range that is 2.5 miles (4 km) high by 62 miles (100 km) long by 24.8 miles (40 km) wide.

See also Debris flow; Landslide; Mud flow; Rockfall; Slump

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Mass Movement." World of Earth Science. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 May. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Mass Movement." World of Earth Science. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 19, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/mass-movement

"Mass Movement." World of Earth Science. . Retrieved May 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/mass-movement

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

mass movement

mass movement See MASS-WASTING.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"mass movement." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 May. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"mass movement." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 19, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/mass-movement

"mass movement." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Retrieved May 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/mass-movement

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

mass movement

mass movement See mass-wasting.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"mass movement." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 May. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"mass movement." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 19, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/mass-movement-0

"mass movement." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Retrieved May 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/mass-movement-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.