Murray Leinster's "The Swamp Was Upside Down" (novelette, problem solving, free): How to stop landslides?
While there are parts dealing with soil mechanics & other stuff I didn't follow, main story is very cool.
Story summary.Canna III is a watery world with a single habitable island. And the island is sort of inclined - big cliff on one side, & gently sloping towards the other side. Intensive & irresponsible agriculture has made a lot of water collect where soil meets bedrock - turning the land into a sort of a swamp turned upside down! And this swamp is now sliding towards the sea - taking land with it! Even minor vibrations - triggered by waves hitting the cliff side, or a motor boat approaching - tend to trigger landslides.
To complicate matter further, there has been a big leakage of "ship-fuel" - some sort of synthetic liquid fuel that is safe when refrigerated but very explosive at a little above normal temperature. This has seeped from underground tanks at bedrock level - so now just the right conditions, & island goes puff!
Bordman is the specialist called. He will work out an ingenious method that uses seeped fuel to simply evaporate the trapped water near bedrock - turning the place habitable again.
Fact sheet.First published: Astounding Science Fiction, September 1956.
Download full text from Webscription.
Listed among the stories from John Campbell's Astounding/Analog.
Related: All stories from Analog/Astounding; Harry Bates' Astounding.
Related: All stories of Murray Leinster.