Debris Flow / Landslides

Mudslides develop when water rapidly accumulates in the ground and results in a surge of water-saturated rock, earth, and debris. Mudslides usually start on steep slopes and can be activated by natural disasters or harsh storms.

See the Winter Storm Preparedness section for notes on how Pepperdine prepares the Malibu campus for winter weather. If you see signs of a potential debris flow on or near a University campus, advise Public Safety immediately.

  • Be aware of any sudden increase or decrease in water level on a stream or creek that might indicate debris flow upstream. A trickle of flowing mud may precede a larger flow.
  • Look for tilted trees, telephone poles, fences, or walls as well as new holes or bare spots on hillsides.
  • Listen for rumbling sounds that might indicate an approaching landslide or mudflow.

If landslide or debris flow danger is imminent, quickly move away from the path of the slide. Getting out of the path of a debris flow is your best protection.

  • Move to the nearest high ground in a direction perpendicular from the debris flow path. Do not attempt to run toward or away in the direction of debris flow, instead run perpendicular.
  • If rocks and debris are approaching, run for the nearest shelter and take cover (if possible, in the upper floors of a multi story building and under a desk, table, or other piece of sturdy furniture).
  • If caught in the landslide curl into a tight ball and protect your head if escape is not possible.

After the debris flow has stopped moving and there are no other movements or sounds indicating that more is following:

  • Report any one that is injured or trapped.
  • Students in the Malibu residential community should contact their RA or Residential Emergency Response Team (RERT) member so that he/she will be able to account for everyone.
  • Keep phone lines clear except when necessary to report serious hazards or injuries.
  • Do not return to an evacuated building unless directed to do so by Public Safety or first responders.
  • Be prepared to stay where you are for a few hours (at graduate campuses) or for several days (at Malibu). Roads may be blocked or impassable.
  • Consider keeping basic emergency supplies available in your car. Please see the list of Personal Preparedness items on this website for suggestions of what to keep on hand.