Landslide Simulation Model

This web game lets you play with a simulated hillside and explore the conditions that lead to landslides. It is based on the real physics of where landslides happen.

The best way to get started is to open a scenario and play! Use the Dump Truck tool to add soil where you click. Use the Shovel to remove soil where you click. The Magnifying Glass lets you click on any part of the soil and view information about the saturation, slope, and stability. If you add a House, you can drag it around to put where you want it.

Some things to think about

  • Make a flat space and add a house to the hillside – can you do it without causing a landslide?
  • What happens within the soil when it rains?
  • How do landslides change how thick the soil is in different parts of the landscape?

How it Works

The model calculates the Factor of Safety for each point in the soil. The Factor of Safety is the ratio of forces that resist landslides – like gentle slopes, cohesive soil, and dry soil – to factors that promote landslides – like steep slopes and thicker, wetter soils. Where the Factor of Safety is high, much greater than 1, the slope is stable and unlikely to have a landslide. Where the Factor of Safety falls near or below 1, that part of the slope is unstable and look out for a landslide!

Compatibility: Works on Apple Safari v.8+, MS Edge, Mozilla Firefox v.31+, Google Chrome v.45+, and Opera.

It is currently NOT compatible with any version of Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer is no longer supported by Microsoft, and has security vulnerabilities; please consider using another browser listed above.

We are working on full mobile support. The simulation will currently run on mobile devices but some of the tools will not work.

Our next major update will be in Fall 2019. We’d love your feedback!


The majority of Greater Cincinnati’s hillsides consist of an underlying layer of bedrock approximately 200 feet thick, made up of 80% shale and 20% limestone.  When shale is exposed to air and water, it quickly breaks down into an unstable material known as colluvium.  Colluvium can range from several feet to 50 feet in thickness, and it is highly susceptible to erosion and landsliding.  Some of the region’s valleys contain lake clays.  These clays are associated with landslides that can occur on the gentlest of slopes.

The instability of Greater Cincinnati’s hillsides become more problematic due to excessive periods of precipitation, and construction methods that fail to address the underlying geology.  Annually, the Greater Cincinnati region experiences millions of dollars in damages from landsliding, making it one of the more landslide susceptible areas in the country.