- GeoRef, Copyright 2005, American Geological Institute.
As a result of the widespread use of the landslide classifications of Varnes (1978), and Hutchinson (1988), certain terms describing common types of flow-like mass movements have become entrenched in the language of engineering geology. Example terms include debris flow, debris avalanche and mudslide. Here, more precise definitions of the terms are proposed, which would allow the terms to be retained with their original meanings while making their application less ambiguous. A new division of landslide materials is proposed, based on genetic and morphological aspects rather than arbitrary grain-size limits. The basic material groups include sorted materials: gravel, sand, silt, and clay, unsorted materials: debris, earth and mud, peat and rock. Definitions are proposed for relatively slow non-liquefied sand or gravel flows, extremely rapid sand, silt or debris flow slides accompanied by liquefaction, clay flow slides involving extra-sensitive clays, peat flows, slow to rapid earth flows in nonsensitive plastic clays, debris flows which occur in steep established channels or gullies, mud flows considered as cohesive debris flows, debris floods involving massive sediment transport at limited discharges, debris avalanches which occur on open hill slopes and rock avalanches formed by large scale failures of bedrock.