Many mass- wasting studies have been conducted worldwide, however, investigations have focused in mountainous or coastal regions. This has proven problematic in areas lacking those features yet are experiencing mass wasting. Several anthropogenic risks, economic loss, and environmental issues are associated with mass wasting such as destruction of property, loss of life, and sediment pollution. The midwestern USA, is generally considered a low relief region, therefore limited data exist for mass wasting occurrence. Within the last decade, however, several events have occurred across Minnesota with little understanding of the ongoing hillslope processes leading to failure. The Minnesota River valley is an evolving landscape adjusting post-glaciation. Glacial outburst floods created unstable, high relief valley walls working towards an equilibrium state by means of slope failure. Therefore, this thesis focuses on investigating and assessing mass wasting for a case study area within the Minnesota River valley, Minnesota, USA. A combination of archival research, field collection, and remotely sensed data analysis was used to record and map mass-wasting sites and characteristics of each failure. Archival research included aerial imagery, historical documentation, and personal meetings with locals to gather previously documented mass wasting. Field collection and remotely sensed data were used to catalogue characteristics and map mass wasting features for better spatial, temporal, qualitative, and quantitative data availability. Over 1,500 mass-wasting sites were identified within the Minnesota River valley. Slides, falls, flows, topples, and fail zones (complex) were recorded to have occurred in the study area. Failures were found along the valley marginal walls and in marginal and tributary ravines. Statistical analysis was conducted to assess any influential relationships between failure and key characteristics. It was found that slopes between 20-45 degrees were most likely to fail. The most prominent geologic substrates involved in mass wasting were glacial tills and Cambrian Jordan Sandstone. Overall, mass wasting is common throughout the study area and plays a significant role in valley evolution.


Phillip Larson

Committee Member

Carrie Jennings

Committee Member

Cynthia Miller

Committee Member

Andrew Wickert

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Social and Behavioral Sciences



Rights Statement

In Copyright