Abstract

Many rock avalanches entrain and liquefy saturated soil from their paths. Evidence for this includes mud displaced from the margins of rock avalanche deposits, substrate material smeared along the base of deposits, extrusion of liquefied soil upward through the deposits, and increases of volume. A hypothesis first suggested in 1881 and since reinforced by several authors suggests that entrainment of substrate material increases mobility. Although the process has been discussed in the literature for more than 100 years, few detailed and quantitative descriptions exist. The main purpose of this paper is to describe two recent cases from British Columbia, Canada, where rockslides entrained substrate on a very large scale, influencing the character of the events. Estimated volume balance curves, based on detailed field mapping, are provided for both cases. Dynamic analyses are carried out using a numerical model and using the same set of rheological parameters. The mechanism of material entrainment and displacement is discussed. The data suggest that rapid rock failures entraining very large quantities of saturated substrate material represent a special type of landslide, transitional between rock avalanche and debris avalanche. Many rock avalanches can thus be seen as end members of a continuum of phenomena involving rock failure followed by interaction with saturated substrate.

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