Articles | Volume 10, issue 11
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 10, 2379–2390, 2010
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 10, 2379–2390, 2010

  25 Nov 2010

25 Nov 2010

Debris flow hazard modelling on medium scale: Valtellina di Tirano, Italy

J. Blahut1, P. Horton2, S. Sterlacchini3, and M. Jaboyedoff2,4 J. Blahut et al.
  • 1Institute of Rock Structure and Mechanics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague, Czech Republic
  • 2Institute of Geomatics and Risk Analysis, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 3Institute for the Dynamic of Environmental Processes, National Research Council (CNR-IDPA), Milan, Italy
  • 4Quanterra, Lausanne, Switzerland

Abstract. Debris flow hazard modelling at medium (regional) scale has been subject of various studies in recent years. In this study, hazard zonation was carried out, incorporating information about debris flow initiation probability (spatial and temporal), and the delimitation of the potential runout areas. Debris flow hazard zonation was carried out in the area of the Consortium of Mountain Municipalities of Valtellina di Tirano (Central Alps, Italy). The complexity of the phenomenon, the scale of the study, the variability of local conditioning factors, and the lacking data limited the use of process-based models for the runout zone delimitation. Firstly, a map of hazard initiation probabilities was prepared for the study area, based on the available susceptibility zoning information, and the analysis of two sets of aerial photographs for the temporal probability estimation. Afterwards, the hazard initiation map was used as one of the inputs for an empirical GIS-based model (Flow-R), developed at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland). An estimation of the debris flow magnitude was neglected as the main aim of the analysis was to prepare a debris flow hazard map at medium scale. A digital elevation model, with a 10 m resolution, was used together with landuse, geology and debris flow hazard initiation maps as inputs of the Flow-R model to restrict potential areas within each hazard initiation probability class to locations where debris flows are most likely to initiate. Afterwards, runout areas were calculated using multiple flow direction and energy based algorithms. Maximum probable runout zones were calibrated using documented past events and aerial photographs. Finally, two debris flow hazard maps were prepared. The first simply delimits five hazard zones, while the second incorporates the information about debris flow spreading direction probabilities, showing areas more likely to be affected by future debris flows. Limitations of the modelling arise mainly from the models applied and analysis scale, which are neglecting local controlling factors of debris flow hazard. The presented approach of debris flow hazard analysis, associating automatic detection of the source areas and a simple assessment of the debris flow spreading, provided results for consequent hazard and risk studies. However, for the validation and transferability of the parameters and results to other study areas, more testing is needed.