Soil slips and debris flows on terraced slopes
Abstract. Terraces cover large areas along the flanks of many alpine and prealpine valleys. Soil slips and soil slips-debris flows are recurrent phenomena along terraced slopes. These landslides cause damages to people, settlements and cultivations. This study investigates the processes related to the triggering of soil slip-debris flows in these settings, analysing those occurred in Valtellina (Central Alps, Italy) on November 2000 after heavy prolonged rainfalls. 260 landslides have been recognised, mostly along the northern valley flank. About 200 soil slips and slumps occurred in terraced areas and a third of them evolved into debris flows. Field work allowed to recognise the settings at soil slip-debris flow source areas. Landslides affected up to 2.5 m of glacial, fluvioglacial and anthropically reworked deposits overlying metamorphic basement. Laboratory and in situ tests allowed to characterise the geotechnical and hydraulic properties of the terrains involved in the initial failure. Several stratigraphic and hydrogeologic factors have been individuated as significant in determining instabilities on terraced slopes. They are the vertical changes of physical soil properties, the presence of buried hollows where groundwater convergence occurs, the rising up of perched groundwater tables, the overflow and lateral infiltration from superficial drainage network, the runoff concentration by means of pathways and the insufficient drainage of retaining walls.