Journal of
Geography and Regional Planning

  • Abbreviation: J. Geogr. Reg. Plann.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2070-1845
  • DOI: 10.5897/JGRP
  • Start Year: 2008
  • Published Articles: 389

Full Length Research Paper

Geomorphic and hazard vulnerability assessment of recent residential developments on landslide-prone terrain: The case of the Traverse Mountains, Utah, USA

  Kathleen Nicoll  
Department of Geography, University of Utah, 260 So Central Campus, Drive 270, Salt Lake City, UT  84105, USA. Tel: +1 510-825-1229. Fax: +1 801-585-5800.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 20 April 2010
  •  Published: 30 June 2010



Homeowners who live near or on steep slopes of the Traverse Mountains along the Wasatch front in southern Salt Lake City, Utah (USA) are at risk where development of “master-planned communities” has been permitted on known landslide deposits since 2001. Some of the largest landslides in the state of Utah are being modified as road construction and residential development progresses. This paper reviewed the setting of the landslide-prone areas and used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) spatial tools to assess the value of local developments built on mapped slide features. Dataset overlays were compiled to determine the vulnerability of residences, and to quantify potential monetary loss from a future landslide event. The key elements at risk include property, as well as the population, economic activities, and public services of a given region. An initial conservative figure calculated for the vulnerability of residents owning property exceeds $500 million for the Traverse Mountains region of Draper City, based on 2007 property values recorded at the Salt Lake County Assessors Office. In developing this area, the failure to consider existing and potential hazards has caused a myriad of tensions among local government officials, planners, financiers, state regulators, consultants, developers, realtors, and homeowners.


Key words: Landslide, slope stability, vulnerability, Utah, geopolitics, GIS.