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Torrential rainfall swamped western Japan in July of 2018. The rain caused mudslides that flooded cities, damaged buildings and rattled the nation’s infrastructure. More than 170 people died.

These Landsat 8 images highlight the rush of muddy water that tore through the cities of Fukuyama and Kurashiki on its way to the ocean.

The waters of the Ashida and Takahashi Rivers appear light tan and gray in the first image, which was captured May 22.

The colors changed when the mudslides began. Each river becomes a thick, tan-colored snake of murky liquid on July 9, sending swirls of sediment into the sea.

The images are close to natural color. They were created using bands 4, 3, and 1 on Landsat 8’s Operational Land Imager. Band 1 is sensitive to suspended sediment in water.

Landsat data archived at the Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center can be used to monitor, study and respond to natural hazards worldwide.

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