Articles | Volume 14, issue 2
Research article
20 Feb 2014
Research article |  | 20 Feb 2014

Rainfall thresholds for shallow landslide occurrence in Calabria, southern Italy

C. Vennari, S. L. Gariano, L. Antronico, M. T. Brunetti, G. Iovine, S. Peruccacci, O. Terranova, and F. Guzzetti

Abstract. In many areas, rainfall is the primary trigger of landslides. Determining the rainfall conditions responsible for landslide occurrence is important, and may contribute to saving lives and properties. In a long-term national project for the definition of rainfall thresholds for possible landslide occurrence in Italy, we compiled a catalogue of 186 rainfall events that resulted in 251 shallow landslides in Calabria, southern Italy, from January 1996 to September 2011. Landslides were located geographically using Google Earth®, and were given a mapping and a temporal accuracy. We used the landslide information, and sub-hourly rainfall measurements obtained from two complementary networks of rain gauges, to determine cumulated event vs. rainfall duration (ED) thresholds for Calabria. For this purpose, we adopted an existing method used to prepare rainfall thresholds and to estimate their associated uncertainties in central Italy. The regional thresholds for Calabria were found to be nearly identical to previous ED thresholds for Calabria obtained using a reduced set of landslide information, and slightly higher than the ED thresholds obtained for central Italy. We segmented the regional catalogue of rainfall events with landslides in Calabria into lithology, soil regions, rainfall zones, and seasonal periods. The number of events in each subdivision was insufficient to determine reliable thresholds, but allowed for preliminary conclusions about the role of the environmental factors in the rainfall conditions responsible for shallow landslides in Calabria. We further segmented the regional catalogue based on administrative subdivisions used for hydro-meteorological monitoring and operational flood forecasting, and we determined separate ED thresholds for the Tyrrhenian and the Ionian coasts of Calabria. We expect the ED rainfall thresholds for Calabria to be used in regional and national landslide warning systems. The thresholds can also be used for landslide hazard and risk assessments, and for erosion and landscape evolution studies, in the study area and in similar physiographic regions in the Mediterranean area.

Final-revised paper