Articles | Volume 13, issue 1
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 13, 151–166, 2013

Special issue: New developments and applications in early warning, monitoring...

Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 13, 151–166, 2013

Research article 25 Jan 2013

Research article | 25 Jan 2013

HIRESSS: a physically based slope stability simulator for HPC applications

G. Rossi1, F. Catani1, L. Leoni1,*, S. Segoni1, and V. Tofani1 G. Rossi et al.
  • 1Earth Science Department of University of Firenze, Firenze, Italy
  • *now at: IDS, Pisa, Italy

Abstract. HIRESSS (HIgh REsolution Slope Stability Simulator) is a physically based distributed slope stability simulator for analyzing shallow landslide triggering conditions in real time and on large areas using parallel computational techniques. The physical model proposed is composed of two parts: hydrological and geotechnical. The hydrological model receives the rainfall data as dynamical input and provides the pressure head as perturbation to the geotechnical stability model that computes the factor of safety (FS) in probabilistic terms. The hydrological model is based on an analytical solution of an approximated form of the Richards equation under the wet condition hypothesis and it is introduced as a modeled form of hydraulic diffusivity to improve the hydrological response. The geotechnical stability model is based on an infinite slope model that takes into account the unsaturated soil condition. During the slope stability analysis the proposed model takes into account the increase in strength and cohesion due to matric suction in unsaturated soil, where the pressure head is negative. Moreover, the soil mass variation on partially saturated soil caused by water infiltration is modeled.

The model is then inserted into a Monte Carlo simulation, to manage the typical uncertainty in the values of the input geotechnical and hydrological parameters, which is a common weak point of deterministic models. The Monte Carlo simulation manages a probability distribution of input parameters providing results in terms of slope failure probability. The developed software uses the computational power offered by multicore and multiprocessor hardware, from modern workstations to supercomputing facilities (HPC), to achieve the simulation in reasonable runtimes, compatible with civil protection real time monitoring.

A first test of HIRESSS in three different areas is presented to evaluate the reliability of the results and the runtime performance on large areas.