Integrated Interpretation of Geophysical, Geotechnical, and Environmental Monitoring Data to Define Precursors for Landslide Activation

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Sebastian Uhlemann1,2, Jonathan Chambers1, Andrew Merritt3, Paul Wilkinson1, Philip Meldrum1, David Gunn1, Hansruedi Maurer2 and Neil Dixon4, (1)British Geological Survey Keyworth, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom, (2)ETH Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland, (3)Plymouth University, Plymouth, United Kingdom, (4)University of Loughborough, Loughborough, United Kingdom
To develop a better understanding of the failure mechanisms leading to first time failure or reactivation of landslides, the British Geological Survey is operating an observatory on an active, shallow landslide in North Yorkshire, UK, which is a typical example of slope failure in Lias Group mudrocks. This group and the Whitby Mudstone Formation in particular, show one of the highest landslide densities in the UK. The observatory comprises geophysical (i.e., ERT and self-potential monitoring, P- and S-wave tomography), geotechnical (i.e. acoustic emission and inclinometer), and hydrological and environmental monitoring (i.e. weather station, water level, soil moisture, soil temperature), in addition to movement monitoring using real-time kinematic GPS.

In this study we focus on the reactivation of the landslide at the end of 2012, after an exceptionally wet summer. We present an integrated interpretation of the different data streams. Results show that the two lobes (east and west), which form the main focus of the observatory, behave differently. While water levels, and hence pore pressures, in the eastern lobe are characterised by a continuous increase towards activation resulting in significant movement (i.e. metres), water levels in the western lobe are showing frequent drainage events and thus lower pore pressures and a lower level of movement (i.e. tens of centimetres). This is in agreement with data from the geoelectrical monitoring array. During the summer season, resistivities generally increase due to decreasing moisture levels. However, during the summer of 2012 this seasonal pattern was interrupted, with the reactivated lobe displaying strongly decreasing resistivities (i.e. increasing moisture levels). The self-potential and soil moisture data show clear indications of moisture accumulation prior to the reactivation, followed by continuous discharge towards the base of the slope. Using the different data streams, we present 3D volumetric images of gravimetric moisture content (derived from the ERT data) that highlight the reasons for the differential behaviour and indicate precursors for landslide reactivation.