Landslide threat within the Brazilian metropolis of Petrópolis


Landslide threat within the Brazilian metropolis of Petrópolis

The restoration operations within the aftermath of the dreadful landslides in Petrópolis, Brazil proceed.  To this point there are over 150- confirmed fatalities, with many extra reported to be lacking.  There isn’t any prospect of discovering any additional survivors.

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Inevitably consideration is now returning  to the causes of the catastrophe.  ABC News has an excellent article exploring the issues.  The piece makes use of a superb quote from Antônio Guerra, who is a professor of geography professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and who has studied weather-related catastrophes in Petropolis for nearly 30 years. He says:

“Rain is the nice villain, however the primary trigger is poor land use. There’s a complete lack of planning,”

That is precisely proper.  The Google Earth picture of Petrópolis under reveals a sprawling metropolis constructed between and on steep slopes, with little or no planning and few makes an attempt to make the slopes secure:-

Google Earth picture of town of Petrópolis in Brazil.


Town has over 300,000 inhabitants, lots of whom reside in poorly deliberate housing on steep slopes.  The ABC article notes that in 2017 about 20,000 households – 18% of the overall – had been positioned on slopes with excessive or very excessive threat.  Local weather change is after all elevating that threat, primarily due to rising rainfall intensities.

That Petrópolis has excessive ranges of landslide threat shouldn’t be information.  Nearly 30 years in the past Antônio Guerra revealed an article (Guerra 1995), out there on-line, reviewing catastrophic occasions within the metropolis between 1940 and 1990.  The summary of the article notes that:

“Petrópolis has suffered 1,161 catastrophic occasions (1940-1990 solely) together with landslides, mudslides, rockfalls and floods. Most occasions are brought on by heavy rains…The variety of deaths seems to be rising and almost 90% of the occasions occurred inside urbanized areas. Presently the principal responses are reactive, relatively than preventive.”

The administration of landslide threat in cities in costly and tough, however Hong Kong has demonstrated that it is possible.  Petrópolis will proceed to undergo disasters, most likely at an accelerating charge, except motion is taken.



Guerra, A. 1995.  Catastrophic Events in Petrópolis City (Rio de Janeiro State), between 1940 and 1990GeoJournal, 37 (3), 6 pp.



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