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Buffalo Creek Landslide, Bighorn Basin, Wyoming

In November 2016, a Discovery Channel camera crew filmed geologists from the Wyoming State Geological Survey at the site of the Buffalo Creek Landslide in the Bighorn Basin. Hunters noticed the landslide in October 2015. The video, produced and owned by Discovery Channel, can be viewed on the left. Follow the link below for an interpretation based on review of historic photographs, web sources, photographs of the slide, existing data, and local geology.

Landslide near West Fork of Buffalo Creek

Landslides in Wyoming

Landslides, also known as mass wasting, are the downward movement of rock caused by gravity and occur when a slope becomes unstable. Rock falls, Report a landslide link debris flows, slumps, lateral spread, and creep are all types of landslides. Landslides can damage or destroy roads, pipelines, structures, and utility lines. They can also temporarily block rivers with earthen dams, which when over topped by backed up water can cause flash flooding downstream. When landslides occur in populated areas, they can cause significant damage and loss of life. Local geology, geologic structures, hydrology, and precipitation are the primary contributors to landslides. Human activities, such as road construction and surface water diversion, can also have an effect on the occurrence of landslides.

Landslides occur every year in Wyoming, however, most occur in remote areas and do no typically cause damage. The WSGS has mapped more than 30,000 landslides.

Susceptibility to Deep-seated Landslides in Wyoming, 2019

Database iconLandslide Database

PDF iconPreliminary Map of Landslides in Wyoming

PDF iconLandslides

Types of Landslides

Debris Flow—A mass of loose, water-laden and poorly sorted debris of fragmented rock, soil, and mud that surges down a slope in response to gravitational processes. Debris flows can be triggered by heavy rainfall, rapid snowmelt, or by other landslides.

Debris Flow

Falls—Unexpected release of rock or coarse material from a steep slope.


Topples—Comparable to falls, but the primary motion involves forward rotation and mass movement of rock or debris out of a slope face.


Creep—Slow movement of material down a slope.

Slope creep

Rotational (slump)—Block of material moving down a slope along a concave surface.

Rotational landslide

Translational—Block of material moving downslope that occurs along a distinctive surface of weakness (soil horizon, bedding, or fault) or parallel to the ground surface.

Translational landslide

Seth Wittke,