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Use of rainfall statistical return periods to determine threshold for mass wasting events


Recent attention has been focused toward determination of threshold rainfall levels in the estimation and prediction of mass wasting events (such as landslides, mudflows, debris flows, sloughs, earth movements, and so forth). The literature indicates use of a cumulative rainfall value as a threshold that correlates mass wasting occurrence versus rainfall depth occurrence. In the current article, the threshold concept is extended to use of rainfall return period estimates. Return period estimates are developed for the peak 1-day, 2-day, and successively larger continuous peak durations of rainfall, to duration sizes of 1 year. Such a return period peak duration rainfall analysis is prepared for each rainfall season in the rain gauge record, resulting in a historic summary of peak duration return frequency based on every possible peak rainfall duration. By using return period as a measure of the rainfall depth for each peak duration, one can correlate the rareness of rainfall occurrence to the rareness of the mass wasting events for those events substantially triggered by rainfall. A similar type of analysis can be developed for estimates of infiltration by using a selected infiltration relationship and then synthesizing the resulting estimates in the same way that the rainfall data are analyzed. Once the entire history of the rain gauge is analyzed for infiltration, return period estimates can also be developed for use in possible correlation to mass wasting events. A case study involving a catastrophic landslide in La Conchita, California, is considered as an example application.

ISSN: 1078-7275
EISSN: 1558-9161
Coden: ENGEA9
Serial Title: Environmental & Engineering Geoscience
Serial Volume: 16
Serial Issue: 4
Title: Use of rainfall statistical return periods to determine threshold for mass wasting events
Affiliation: U. S. Military Academy, Department of Mathematical Sciences, West Point, NY, United States
Pages: 343-356
Published: 201011
Text Language: English
Publisher: Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists and The Geological Society of America, College Station, TX, United States
References: 19
Accession Number: 2010-100850
Categories: HydrogeologyGeomorphology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 5 tables
N34°02'60" - N34°52'60", W119°27'00" - W118°40'00"
Secondary Affiliation: University of California San Diego, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Abstract, Copyright, Association of Engineering Geologists and the Geological Society of America. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 201052
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