Abstract

Inventory of unstable hillslopes, hydrogeological mapping and hydrochemical characteristics of natural spring waters were used to determine the long-term relationships between groundwater and gravitational instabilities in the Upper Tinée Valley (South-East French Alps). Water chemistry and flow records allow to propose a conceptual model of water flow within unstable rocky slopes and to back-calculate the volume of infiltrated water and the flow velocity in the aquifers for different deformation states of the slopes. An increase in infiltrated yield, flow velocity and porosity is observed and linked to collapsed and toppled structures in the upper parts of the hillslopes. In these areas, perched aquifers take place in the reworked media. When a large landslide occurs, it modifies the geometry of the slope and bypasses the perched flows down to the foot of the slope. With long-term continuous slope deformation, the associated effect between water flows and slope destabilization changes. In the fractured rock, the coupled effect corresponds to rising water pressures with limited volumes of infiltrated water; in the more fractured and permeable collapsed and toppled areas, the volumes of infiltrated water increase with a lower variation of water pressures.

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