Q:

What is a mudflow?

A:

A mudflow is the downhill movement of soft, wet earth and debris made fluid by rain or melted snow. Mudflows occur when water mixes with soil and rock. They are most common in mountainous regions when a long dry season is followed by heavy rains.

Mudflows from volcanic eruptions, also known as lahars, are the most dangerous. This type of mudflow is composed of a slurry of hot gases, rocky debris and water. Lahars are as thick as liquid concrete and can move up to 80 miles per hour. They can be caused by lava, melting snow and glaciers during an eruption.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What causes mudflow?

    A:

    Mudflows are caused by conditions favorable to soft, wet mud sliding downhill instead of staying put. Earthquakes, heavy rains, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and even nearby explosions have been known to trigger mudflows.

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  • Q:

    Why are hurricanes unable to form along the equator?

    A:

    Hurricanes are unable to form along the equator because of the zero Coriolis Effect at 0 latitude, which is the force required for the spinning motion of these violent storms. One of the necessary environmental conditions for an atmospheric disturbance to become a full-blown hurricane is for the rough weather conditions to occur at least 300 miles away from the equator. The Coriolis Effect, which decreases the farther from the equator, is the apparent force that tends to move rotating objects to the right.

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  • Q:

    Has anyone survived a tornado?

    A:

    There are numerous recorded instances of adults and children who have been physically lifted by a tornado and survived the experience. One case involved a young boy who was wearing a bike helmet when a 2011 tornado in Joplin, Mo. enveloped him.

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  • Q:

    Where do floods usually occur?

    A:

    Floods typically occur in lands that are adjacent to rivers or at coastal areas. Land adjacent to rivers, known as floodplains, is susceptible to floods when there is excessive rain. Coastal areas face flooding only when a tsunami or large storm forces the sea to surge inland.

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