Articles | Volume 15, issue 9
Research article
18 Sep 2015
Research article |  | 18 Sep 2015

Evaluation of shallow landslide-triggering scenarios through a physically based approach: an example of application in the southern Messina area (northeastern Sicily, Italy)

L. Schilirò, C. Esposito, and G. Scarascia Mugnozza

Abstract. Rainfall-induced shallow landslides are a widespread phenomenon that frequently causes substantial damage to property, as well as numerous casualties. In recent~years a wide range of physically based models have been developed to analyze the triggering process of these events. Specifically, in this paper we propose an approach for the evaluation of different shallow landslide-triggering scenarios by means of the TRIGRS (transient rainfall infiltration and grid-based slope stability) numerical model. For the validation of the model, a back analysis of the landslide event that occurred in the study area (located SW of Messina, northeastern Sicily, Italy) on 1 October 2009 was performed, by using different methods and techniques for the definition of the input parameters. After evaluating the reliability of the model through comparison with the 2009 landslide inventory, different triggering scenarios were defined using rainfall values derived from the rainfall probability curves, reconstructed on the basis of daily and hourly historical rainfall data. The results emphasize how these phenomena are likely to occur in the area, given that even short-duration (1–3 h) rainfall events with a relatively low return period (e.g., 10–20~years) can trigger numerous slope failures. Furthermore, for the same rainfall amount, the daily simulations underestimate the instability conditions. The high susceptibility of this area to shallow landslides is testified by the high number of landslide/flood events that have occurred in the past and are summarized in this paper by means of archival research. Considering the main features of the proposed approach, the authors suggest that this methodology could be applied to different areas, even for the development of landslide early warning systems.

Short summary
The aim of this paper is to provide a useful approach for the evaluation of shallow landslide-triggering scenarios through numerical modeling. Since the numerical models are, in general, exceptionally demanding in terms of parameterization, and the required information often exceeds available data, this approach combines different methods for the definition of the input parameters of the model in such a way that it is applicable to different case studies, on the basis of the data availability.
Final-revised paper