Provided in public service by:

  • Jeffrey L. Welsh, Twining MS, Grand Forks AFB
  • Barry B. Olson, Discovery Junior High, Fargo
  • Patrick Healey, Discovery Junior High, Fargo
  • Donald P. Schwert,NDSU Geosciences
  • Red River of the North
    at Fargo

    (Click to enlarge).
    One normally associates landslides and other mass wasting processes with areas of high relief, such as hills and mountains. Thus, it surprises many to learn that gravitationally-driven processes can also occur in areas of extreme flatness.

    Fargo lies on one of the flattest surfaces on Earth --- the lake bottom of what was once Glacial Lake Agassiz. Underlying Fargo are approximately 105 feet of lake sediments that are clay-rich and inherently fertile. But these same sediments also display weak engineering properties. Where these sediments are exposed as slopes, such as along the banks and valley walls of the Red River of the North, mass wasting processes frequently occur.

    This web site presents an overview of factors leading to mass wasting, plus several case histories that show the association of mass wasting with the Red River, itself.

    • Introduction - Questionable land use practices in our region, and the need for greater public awareness of our geologic setting.

    • River Bank Slumping - Cass County's web site, providing comprehensive resources on the problem.

    • An Overview of the Problem - Explanation of natural river processes in the Red River Valley region -- and how they impact residential development.

    • Problem Areas - Maps and air photos outlining areas of instability in Fargo.

    • Types of Mass Wasting: Slump - Description and photographs of slump and slump-like processes along the Red River in Fargo.

    • Types of Mass Wasting: Creep and Earthflow - Description and photographs of the processes of creep and earthflow along the Red River in Fargo.

    • Worst Case Scenario - Mass wasting coupled with flooding present the worst of geologic settings in our region. Yet people have been allowed to build on these vulnerable land surfaces.

    • Case Study #1 - A photo archive and description of a residential area in south Moorhead experiencing mass wasting problems.

    • Case Study #2 - A photo archive and description of a residential area in north Fargo experiencing mass wasting problems.

    • Case Study #3 - Near the intersection of North Broadway and Trollwood Drive is one of the Red River's most dynamic meanders.

    • Case Study #4 - The trouble with Elm Street can not only be attributed to natural erosional processes but to a flood protection structure of dubious value.

    • Mitigation of the Problem - A review of methods for addressing soil instability problems along the Red River.

    This web site represents the views of the authors and not necessarily those of North Dakota State University. NDSU is not responsible or liable for its contents. Please e-mail us your comments and suggestions.

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    Copyright © Department of Geosciences, North Dakota State University.