Studying the Hydrology of Landslides: Pore Water Pressure, Preferential Flow and Feedbacks Between Slope Displacement and Hillslope Hydrology

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 9:30 AM
Thom Bogaard, Delft University of Technology, Delft, 5612, Netherlands and Roberto Greco, Seconda Università di Napoli, Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile, Design, Edilizia e Ambiente,, Aversa, Italy
Hydrology is one of the most important triggering factors for slope destabilization. When a slope becomes unstable, cracks and fissures develop during slope deformation. These discontinuities affect both geotechnical and hydrological conditions of the slope. The crucial role of water flow, and especially the important role of preferential flow in unstable slopes, is generally recognized. However, in hydrological modelling, the unstable slope is characterized using static subsurface properties. The dynamic feedback between slope deformation and slope hydrology, being positive or negative depending on other geotechnical conditions, is not taken into account although it influences the pore pressure distribution and as such the overall stability.

This research aims to highlight and quantify the dynamic nature of the subsurface hydrological conditions in unstable slopes. We focus on the role preferential flow has on slope destabilization and more specifically on the feedbacks between differential displacement and hydrological behaviour of the subsurface in natural slopes.

We will present examples of field experimental work where we measured the hydrological influence of fissures, theoretical analysis and case study modelling of combined hydrology and slope stability, including feedbacks. The results show the subtle trade-off of increased infiltration and storage capacity in a slope and the increased drainage capacity of well connected preferential flow paths.

We will furthermore highlight the current status of our knowledge as well as identify the knowledge gaps we face and the importance of cross- and multidisciplinary approach to better understand the internal dynamics of slope deformation and hillslope hydrology.