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Challenges in understanding the hydrologic controls on the mobility of slow moving landslides

Jan Wienhoefer, Falk Lindenmaier and Erwin Zehe
Challenges in understanding the hydrologic controls on the mobility of slow moving landslides (in Landslides, R. Hinkelmann (editor), E. Zehe (editor), W. Ehlers (editor) and M. Joswig (editor))
Vadose Zone Journal (May 2011) 10 (2): 496-511


Slow-moving landslides are a wide-spread type of active mass movement, can cause severe damages to infrastructure, and may be a precursor of sudden catastrophic slope failures. Pore-water pressure is commonly regarded as the most important among a number of possible factors controlling landslide velocity. We used high-resolution monitoring data to explore the relations of landslide mobility and hydrologic processes at the Heumoser landslide in Austria, which is characterized by continuous slow movement along a shear zone. Movement rates showed a seasonality that was associated with elevated pore-water pressures. Pore pressure monitoring revealed a system of confined and separated aquifers with differing dynamics. Analysis of a simple infinite slope mobility model showed that small variations in parameters, along with measured pore pressure dynamics, provided a perfect match to our observations. Modeling showed a stabilizing effect of snow cover due to the additional load. This finding was supported by a multiple regression model, which further suggested that effective pore pressures at the slip surface were partially differing from the borehole observations and were related to preferential infiltration and subsurface flow in adjacent areas. It appears that in a setting like the Heumoser landslide, hydrologic processes delicately influence slope mobility through their control on pore pressure dynamics and the weight of the landslide body, which challenges observation and modeling. Moreover, it appears that their simplicity, and especially their high sensitivity to parameter variations, limits the conclusions that can be drawn from infinite slope models.

ISSN: 1539-1663
Serial Title: Vadose Zone Journal
Serial Volume: 10
Serial Issue: 2
Title: Challenges in understanding the hydrologic controls on the mobility of slow moving landslides
Title: Landslides
Author(s): Wienhoefer, JanLindenmaier, FalkZehe, Erwin
Author(s): Hinkelmann, R.editor
Author(s): Zehe, E.editor
Author(s): Ehlers, W.editor
Author(s): Joswig, M.editor
Affiliation: Technische Universitaet Muenchen, Institute of Water and Environment, Munich, Germany
Affiliation: Technical University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Pages: 496-511
Published: 201105
Text Language: English
Publisher: Soil Science Society of America, Madison, WI, United States
References: 57
Accession Number: 2011-064884
Categories: GeomorphologyHydrogeology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 6 tables, sketch map
N47°21'02" - N47°21'02", E09°44'46" - E09°44'47"
Secondary Affiliation: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, DEU, GermanyUniversity of Stuttgart, DEU, Germany
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Abstract, Copyright, Soil Science Society of America. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 201136
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