Abstract

Accurate models of rainfall infiltration are needed for analysis and prediction of slope failure induced by heavy rainfall. In this study, a numerical model was developed to simulate two-dimensional rainwater infiltration into an unsaturated hillslope, the formation of a saturated zone, and the resultant changes in slope stability. This model was subsequently used to analyze the effects of soil porosity parameters (i.e., saturated soil water content ϴs and effective soil porosity [ESP]) on the occurrence of slope failure, the moisture conditions of the displaced material, and the movement of debris flow on weathered granitic hillslopes. We conducted the simulations by imposing various conditions of rainfall, initial wetness of the slope, soil thickness, and slope gradient. Results showed that when the surface soil of a slope has a relatively large ESP value, it has a greater capacity for holding water and therefore delays deeper water infiltration into the subsurface. Consequently, the increase in pore water pressure in the subsurface at a greater depth is also delayed. In this manner, the greater ESP value contributes to delaying slope failure. Under small storm conditions, slope failure tends not to occur when the surface soil has a relatively large ESP value. However, a greater ESP tends to increase the water content of the displaced matter, which results in faster and longer travel distances, and more deposition of debris flow, thus increasing the risk of damage in downstream regions.

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