Understanding fatal landslides at global scales: a summary of topographic, climatic, and anthropogenic perspectives

Seçkin Fidan*, Hakan Tanyaş, Abdullah Akbaş, Luigi Lombardo, David N. Petley, Tolga Görüm

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Landslides are a common global geohazard that lead to substantial loss of life and socio-economic damage. Landslides are becoming more common due to extreme weather events and the impacts of anthropogenic disturbance, and thus, they are threatening sustainable development in many vulnerable areas. Previous studies on fatal landslides have focused on inventory development; spatial and temporal distributions; the role of precipitation or seismic forcing; and human impacts. However, climatologic, topographic, and anthropogenic variables featuring fatal landslides at a global scale have been mostly neglected. Here, using the global fatal landslide database, we evaluate the characteristics of landslides induced by natural and anthropogenic factors with respect to topographic, climatic, and anthropogenic factors, drawing attention to their persistent spatial patterns. The majority of natural (69.3%) and anthropogenic (44.1%) landslides occur in mountainous areas in tropical and temperate regions, which are also characterized by the highest casualty rates per group, 66.7% and 43.0%, respectively. However, they significantly differ in terms of their morphometric footprint. Fatal landslides triggered by natural variables occur mostly in the highest portions of the topographic profile, where human disturbance is minimal. As for their anthropogenic counterpart, these failures cluster at much lower altitudes, where slopes are gentler, but human intervention is higher due to a higher population density. This observation points towards land cover changes being a critical factor in landscape dynamics, stressing the human pressure as a discriminant cause/effect term for natural vs. human-induced landslide fatalities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6437-6455
Number of pages19
JournalNatural hazards
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


  • Bivariate
  • Fatal landslide
  • Fatality
  • Landslide
  • Spatiotemporal persistence


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