By Doug Harbutt

What is a geotechnical engineer’s perspective on recent events?
For me, the 14th February deluge from Cyclone Gabrielle brings to the fore the vulnerability of many house sites situated at the base of steep slopes across NZ and the devastating effects of relatively shallow landslips.

Typically, these slips occur in coastal communities below steep escarpments comprising weak soils. Based on media footage, the Muriwai slips appear to be reasonably shallow, say less than 1 -1.5 m thick but the impact of these fluidised debris flows is detrimental.