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Deep glacier-cut fjords give way only to tall, steep mountains blanketed by dense Sitka spruce forests, all of it drenched in seemingly-continual rainfall.While beautiful, that combination makes the Inside Passage particularly vulnerable to landslides, a natural disaster the city of Juneau, officials say, could be much better prepared for.The new maps will use Li DAR technology, Mattice said, an advanced imaging system that uses light to map landscapes with more precisely than previous technology.It’s expensive and time-consuming work, but Mattice hopes to get started soon mapping the downtown Juneau, a high priority zone because of its population density and vulnerability.

Changing landscapes and weather patterns also need to be taken into account with updated maps. We want to be able to do that with modern science,” Mattice said.

The soil becomes supersaturated and basically becomes quicksand on these steep slopes during major rain events,” Johnson said.

The amount of soil in a bedrock or till hollow varies, she explained, but the mean size of a landslide of this type is about 50 dump trucks full.

Periodically they fail, usually on a cycle of hundreds of thousands of years,” Johnson explained.

Bedrock is mostly impervious to water, Johnson said, so when it rains, water pools between the soil and bedrock.

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