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Debris ( UK: /ˈdɛbr, ˈdbr/ , US: /dəˈbr/ ) is rubble, wreckage, ruins, litter and discarded garbage/refuse/trash, scattered remains of something destroyed, discarded, or as in geology, large rock fragments left by a melting glacier etc. Depending on context, debris can refer to a number of different things. The first apparent use of the French word in English is in a 1701 description of the army of Prince Rupert upon its retreat from a battle with the army of Oliver Cromwell, in England. [1]

British English is the standard dialect of English language as spoken and written in the United Kingdom. Variations exist in formal, written English in the United Kingdom. For example, the adjective wee is almost exclusively used in parts of Scotland and Ireland, and occasionally Yorkshire, whereas little is predominant elsewhere. Nevertheless, there is a meaningful degree of uniformity in written English within the United Kingdom, and this could be described by the term British English. The forms of spoken English, however, vary considerably more than in most other areas of the world where English is spoken, so a uniform concept of British English is more difficult to apply to the spoken language. According to Tom McArthur in the Oxford Guide to World English, British English shares "all the ambiguities and tensions in the word 'British' and as a result can be used and interpreted in two ways, more broadly or more narrowly, within a range of blurring and ambiguity".

American English set of dialects of the English language spoken in the US

American English, sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States.

Rubble is broken stone, of irregular size, shape and texture; undressed especially as a filling-in. Rubble naturally found in the soil is known also as 'brash'. Where present, it becomes more noticeable when the land is ploughed or worked.



In disaster scenarios, tornadoes leave behind large pieces of houses and mass destruction overall. This debris also flies around the tornado itself when it is in progress. The tornado's winds capture debris it kicks up in its wind orbit, and spins it inside its vortex. The tornado's wind radius is larger than the funnel itself. tsunamis and hurricanes also bring large amounts of debris, such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Earthquakes rock cities to rubble debris.

Tornado violently rotating column of air that is in contact with both the earths surface and a cumulonimbus cloud in the air

A tornado is a rapidly rotating column of air that is in contact with both the surface of the Earth and a cumulonimbus cloud or, in rare cases, the base of a cumulus cloud. The windstorm is often referred to as a twister, whirlwind or cyclone, although the word cyclone is used in meteorology to name a weather system with a low-pressure area in the center around which winds blow counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern. Tornadoes come in many shapes and sizes, and they are often visible in the form of a condensation funnel originating from the base of a cumulonimbus cloud, with a cloud of rotating debris and dust beneath it. Most tornadoes have wind speeds less than 110 miles per hour (180 km/h), are about 250 feet (80 m) across, and travel a few miles before dissipating. The most extreme tornadoes can attain wind speeds of more than 300 miles per hour (480 km/h), are more than two miles (3 km) in diameter, and stay on the ground for dozens of miles.


Obsidian debris (talus), Obsidian Dome, California. ObsidianDomeCA.JPG
Obsidian debris (talus), Obsidian Dome, California.

In geology, debris usually applies to the remains of geological activity including landslides, volcanic explosions, avalanches, mudflows or Glacial lake outburst floods (Jökulhlaups) and moraine, lahars, and lava eruptions. Geological debris sometimes moves in a stream called a debris flow. When it accumulates at the base of hillsides, it can be called "talus" or "scree".

Geology The study of the composition, structure, physical properties, and history of Earths components, and the processes by which they are shaped.

Geology is an earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which they change over time. Geology can also include the study of the solid features of any terrestrial planet or natural satellite such as Mars or the Moon. Modern geology significantly overlaps all other earth sciences, including hydrology and the atmospheric sciences, and so is treated as one major aspect of integrated earth system science and planetary science.

Landslide type of natural disaster, geological phenomenon

The term landslide or, less frequently, landslip, refers to several forms of mass wasting that include a wide range of ground movements, such as rockfalls, deep-seated slope failures, mudflows and debris flows. Landslides occur in a variety of environments, characterized by either steep or gentle slope gradients: from mountain ranges to coastal cliffs or even underwater, in which case they are called submarine landslides. Gravity is the primary driving force for a landslide to occur, but there are other factors affecting slope stability which produce specific conditions that make a slope prone to failure. In many cases, the landslide is triggered by a specific event, although this is not always identifiable.

Glacial lake outburst flood A type of outburst flood that occurs when the dam containing a glacial lake fails

A glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) is a type of outburst flood that occurs when the dam containing a glacial lake fails. An event similar to a GLOF, where a body of water contained by a glacier melts or overflows the glacier, is called a Jökulhlaup. The dam can consist of glacier ice or a terminal moraine. Failure can happen due to erosion, a buildup of water pressure, an avalanche of rock or heavy snow, an earthquake or cryoseism, volcanic eruptions under the ice, or if a large enough portion of a glacier breaks off and massively displaces the waters in a glacial lake at its base.

In mining, debris called attle usually consists of rock fragments which contain little or no ore.

Mining The extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth

Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, usually from an ore body, lode, vein, seam, reef or placer deposit. These deposits form a mineralized package that is of economic interest to the miner.


Marine debris washed ashore on Hawaii Marine debris on Hawaiian coast.jpg
Marine debris washed ashore on Hawaii

Marine debris applies to floating garbage such as bottles, cans, styrofoam, cruise ship waste, offshore oil and gas exploration and production facilities pollution, and fishing paraphernalia from professional and recreational boaters. Marine debris is also called litter or flotsam and jetsam. Objects that can constitute marine debris include used automobile tires, detergent bottles, medical wastes, discarded fishing line and nets, soda cans, and bilge waste solids.

Ship Large buoyant watercraft

A ship is a large watercraft that travels the world's oceans and other sufficiently deep waterways, carrying passengers or goods, or in support of specialized missions, such as defense, research and fishing. Historically, a "ship" was a sailing vessel with at least three square-rigged masts and a full bowsprit. Ships are generally distinguished from boats, based on size, shape, load capacity, and tradition.

Petroleum naturally occurring flammable liquid

Petroleum is a naturally occurring, yellowish-black liquid found in geological formations beneath the Earth's surface. It is commonly refined into various types of fuels. Components of petroleum are separated using a technique called fractional distillation, i.e. separation of a liquid mixture into fractions differing in boiling point by means of distillation, typically using a fractionating column.

In addition to being unsightly, it can pose a serious threat to marine life, boats, swimmers, divers, and others. For example, each year millions of seabirds, sea turtles, fish, and marine mammals become entangled in marine debris, or ingest plastics which they have mistaken for food. As many as 30,000 northern fur seals per year get caught in abandoned fishing nets and either drown or suffocate. Whales mistake plastic bags for squid, and birds may mistake plastic pellets for fish eggs. At other times, animals accidentally eat the plastic while feeding on natural food.

Underwater diving Descending below the surface of the water to interact with the environment

Underwater diving, as a human activity, is the practice of descending below the water's surface to interact with the environment. Immersion in water and exposure to high ambient pressure have physiological effects that limit the depths and duration possible in ambient pressure diving. Humans are not physiologically and anatomically well adapted to the environmental conditions of diving, and various equipment has been developed to extend the depth and duration of human dives, and allow different types of work to be done.

Turtle order of reptiles

Turtles are diapsids of the order Testudines characterized by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs and acting as a shield. "Turtle" may refer to the order as a whole or to fresh-water and sea-dwelling testudines. The order Testudines includes both extant (living) and extinct species. The earliest known members of this group date from 220 million years ago, making turtles one of the oldest reptile groups and a more ancient group than snakes or crocodilians. Of the 356 known species alive today, some are highly endangered.

Fish vertebrate animal that lives in water and (typically) has gills

Fish are gill-bearing aquatic craniate animals that lack limbs with digits. They form a sister group to the tunicates, together forming the olfactores. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish as well as various extinct related groups. Tetrapods emerged within lobe-finned fishes, so cladistically they are fish as well. However, traditionally fish are rendered paraphyletic by excluding the tetrapods. Because in this manner the term "fish" is defined negatively as a paraphyletic group, it is not considered a formal taxonomic grouping in systematic biology, unless it is used in the cladistic sense, including tetrapods. The traditional term pisces is considered a typological, but not a phylogenetic classification.

The largest concentration of marine debris is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Marine debris most commonly originates from land-based sources. Various international agencies are currently working to reduce marine debris levels around the world.


In meteorology, debris usually applies to the remains of human habitation and natural flora after storm related destruction. This debris is also commonly referred to as storm debris. Storm debris commonly consists of roofing material, downed tree limbs, downed signs, downed power lines and poles, and wind-blown garbage. Storm debris can become a serious problem immediately after a storm, in that it often blocks access to individuals and communities that may require emergency services. This material frequently exists in such large quantities that disposing of it becomes a serious issue for a community. In addition, storm debris is often hazardous by its very nature, since, for example, downed power lines annually account for storm-related deaths.


Space debris usually refers to the remains of spacecraft that have either fallen to Earth or are still orbiting Earth. Space debris may also consist of natural components such as chunks of rock and ice. The problem of space debris has grown as various space programs have left legacies of launches, explosions, repairs, and discards in both low Earth orbit and more remote orbits. These orbiting fragments have reached a great enough proportion to constitute a hazard to future space launches of both satellite and manned vehicles. Various government agencies and international organizations are beginning to track space debris and also research possible solutions to the problem. While many of these items, ranging in size from nuts and bolts to entire satellites and spacecraft, may fall to Earth, other items located in more remote orbits may stay aloft for centuries. The velocity of some of these pieces of space junk have been clocked in excess of 17,000 miles per hour (27,000 km/h). A piece of space debris falling to Earth leaves a fiery trail, just like a meteor.

A debris disk is a circumstellar disk of dust and debris in orbit around a star.


In medicine, debris usually refers to biological matter that has accumulated or lodged in surgical instruments and is referred to as surgical debris. The presence of surgical debris can result in cross-infections or nosocomial infections if not removed and the affected surgical instruments or equipment properly disinfected.


A child plays on an abandoned tank outside Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 1991 Boys Toys edit.jpg
A child plays on an abandoned tank outside Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 1991

In the aftermath of a war, large areas of the region of conflict are often strewn with war debris in the form of abandoned or destroyed hardware and vehicles, mines, unexploded ordnance, bullet casings and other fragments of metal.

Much war debris has the potential to be lethal and continues to kill and maim civilian populations for years after the end of a conflict. The risks from war debris may be sufficiently high to prevent or delay the return of refugees. In addition war debris may contain hazardous chemicals or radioactive components that can contaminate the land or poison civilians who come into contact with it. Many Mine clearance agencies are also involved in the clearance of war debris.

Land mines in particular are very dangerous as they can remain active for decades after a conflict, which is why they have been banned by international war regulations.

In November 2006 the Protocol on Explosive Remnants of War [2] came into effect with 92 countries subscribing to the treaty that requires the parties involved in a conflict to assist with the removal of unexploded ordnance following the end of hostilities. [3]

Some of the countries most affected by war debris are Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Iraq and Laos.

Similarly military debris may be found in and around firing range and military training areas.

Debris can also be used as cover for military purposes, depending on the situation.


In South Louisiana's Creole and Cajun cultures, debris (pronounced "DAY-bree") refers to chopped organs such as liver, heart, kidneys, tripe, spleen, brain, lungs and pancreas.

See also

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Cyclone large scale air mass that rotates around a strong center of low pressure

In meteorology, a cyclone is a large scale air mass that rotates around a strong center of low atmospheric pressure. Cyclones are characterized by inward spiraling winds that rotate about a zone of low pressure. The largest low-pressure systems are polar vortices and extratropical cyclones of the largest scale. Warm-core cyclones such as tropical cyclones and subtropical cyclones also lie within the synoptic scale. Mesocyclones, tornadoes and dust devils lie within smaller mesoscale. Upper level cyclones can exist without the presence of a surface low, and can pinch off from the base of the tropical upper tropospheric trough during the summer months in the Northern Hemisphere. Cyclones have also been seen on extraterrestrial planets, such as Mars and Neptune. Cyclogenesis is the process of cyclone formation and intensification. Extratropical cyclones begin as waves in large regions of enhanced mid-latitude temperature contrasts called baroclinic zones. These zones contract and form weather fronts as the cyclonic circulation closes and intensifies. Later in their life cycle, extratropical cyclones occlude as cold air masses undercut the warmer air and become cold core systems. A cyclone's track is guided over the course of its 2 to 6 day life cycle by the steering flow of the subtropical jet stream.

Natural disaster major adverse event resulting from natural processes of the Earth

A natural disaster is a major adverse event resulting from natural processes of the Earth; examples are floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other geologic processes. A natural disaster can cause loss of life or damage property, and typically leaves some economic damage in its wake, the severity of which depends on the affected population's resilience, or ability to recover and also on the infrastructure available.

Space debris collection of defunct objects in orbit

Initially, the term space debris referred to the natural debris found in the solar system: asteroids, comets, and meteoroids. However, with the 1979 beginning of the NASA Orbital Debris Program, the term also refers to the debris from the mass of defunct, artificially created objects in space, especially Earth orbit. These include old satellites and spent rocket stages, as well as the fragments from their disintegration and collisions.


A lahar is a violent type of mudflow or debris flow composed of a slurry of pyroclastic material, rocky debris and water. The material flows down from a volcano, typically along a river valley.

Geologic hazards

A geologic hazard is one of several types of adverse geologic conditions capable of causing damage or loss of property and life. These hazards consist of sudden phenomena and slow phenomena:

Mass wasting geomorphic process by which soil, sand, regolith, and rock move downslope

Mass wasting, also known as slope movement or mass movement, is the geomorphic process by which soil, sand, regolith, and rock move downslope typically as a solid, continuous or discontinuous mass, largely under the force of gravity, but frequently with characteristics of a flow as in debris flows and mudflows. Types of mass wasting include creep, slides, flows, topples, and falls, each with its own characteristic features, and taking place over timescales from seconds to hundreds of years. Mass wasting occurs on both terrestrial and submarine slopes, and has been observed on Earth, Mars, Venus, and Jupiter's moon Io.

Space environment is a branch of astronautics, aerospace engineering and space physics that seeks to understand and address conditions existing in space that affect the design and operation of spacecraft. A related subject, space weather, deals with dynamic processes in the solar-terrestrial system that can give rise to effects on spacecraft, but that can also affect the atmosphere, ionosphere and geomagnetic field, giving rise to several other kinds of effects on human technologies.

Marine debris Human-created solid waste in the sea or ocean

Marine debris, also known as marine litter, is human-created waste that has deliberately or accidentally been released in a lake, sea, ocean, or waterway. Floating oceanic debris tends to accumulate at the center of gyres and on coastlines, frequently washing aground, when it is known as beach litter or tidewrack. Deliberate disposal of wastes at sea is called ocean dumping. Naturally occurring debris, such as driftwood, are also present.

Disaster area

A disaster area is a region or a locale, heavily damaged by either natural, technological or social hazards. Disaster areas affect the population living in the community by dramatic increase in expense, loss of energy, food and services; and finally increase the risk of disease for citizens. An area that has been struck with a natural, technological or sociological hazard that opens the affected area for national or international aid.


A mudflow or mud flow is a form of mass wasting involving "very rapid to extremely rapid surging flow" of debris that has become partially or fully liquified by the addition of significant amounts of water to the source material.

Kessler syndrome planetary low-orbit debris hazard

The Kessler syndrome, proposed by the NASA scientist Donald J. Kessler in 1978, is a scenario in which the density of objects in low Earth orbit (LEO) is high enough that collisions between objects could cause a cascade where each collision generates space debris that increases the likelihood of further collisions. One implication is that the distribution of debris in orbit could render space activities and the use of satellites in specific orbital ranges impractical for many generations.

Debris flow

Debris flows are geological phenomena in which water-laden masses of soil and fragmented rock rush down mountainsides, funnel into stream channels, entrain objects in their paths, and form thick, muddy deposits on valley floors. They generally have bulk densities comparable to those of rock avalanches and other types of landslides, but owing to widespread sediment liquefaction caused by high pore-fluid pressures, they can flow almost as fluidly as water. Debris flows descending steep channels commonly attain speeds that surpass 10 m/s, although some large flows can reach speeds that are much greater. Debris flows with volumes ranging up to about 100,000 cubic meters occur frequently in mountainous regions worldwide. The largest prehistoric flows have had volumes exceeding 1 billion cubic meters. As a result of their high sediment concentrations and mobility, debris flows can be very destructive.

A natural hazard is a natural phenomenon that might have a negative effect on humans or the environment. Natural hazard events can be classified into two broad categories: geophysical and biological. Geophysical hazards encompass geological and meteorological phenomena such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, wildfires, cyclonic storms, floods, droughts, avalanches and landslides. Biological hazards can refer to a diverse array of disease, infection, infestation and invasive species.

Particulate pollution Wikipedia disambiguation page

Particulate pollution is pollution of an environment that consists of particles suspended in some medium. There are three primary forms: atmospheric particulate matter, marine debris, and space debris. Some particles are released directly from a specific source, while others form in chemical reactions in the atmosphere. Particulate pollution can be derived from either natural sources or anthropogenic processes.

Kamilo Beach, is a beach located on the southeast coast of the island of Hawaii. It is known for its accumulation of plastic marine debris from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Volcanic hazards

A volcanic hazard is the probability that a volcanic eruption or related geophysical event will occur in a given geographic area and within a specified window of time. The risk that can be associated with a volcanic hazard depends on the proximity and vulnerability of an asset or a population of people near to where a volcanic event might occur.

Muddy River (Washington)

The Muddy River is a stream, about 29 miles (47 km) long, southeast of Mount St. Helens in the U.S. state of Washington. The Muddy River flows south–southeast and joins the Lewis River just above the Swift Reservoir. The Lewis River flows west and is a tributary to the Columbia River. The east flank of Mount St. Helens is within the watershed of Muddy Creek.

The following is a glossary of tornado terms. It includes scientific as well as selected informal terminology.

Glossary of meteorology Wikimedia list article

This glossary of meteorology is a list of terms and concepts relevant to meteorology and the atmospheric sciences, their sub-disciplines, and related fields.


  1. Warwick, Sir Philip. (1701). Memoires of the Reigne of King Charles I: With a continuation to the happy restoration of King Charles II. London: Ri.Chiswell. p. 208.
  2. "Protocol on Explosive Remnants of War (Protocol V to the 1980 Convention)". International Committee of the Red Cross. 2003. Retrieved 2006-06-20.
  3. "War Debris Treaty To Come Into Force in November". Defense News. 2006. Retrieved 2006-06-20.