Articles | Volume 3, issue 5
31 Oct 2003
 | 31 Oct 2003

Debris-flow susceptibility assessment through cellular automata modeling: an example from 15–16 December 1999 disaster at Cervinara and San Martino Valle Caudina (Campania, southern Italy)

G. Iovine, S. Di Gregorio, and V. Lupiano

Abstract. On 15–16 December 1999, heavy rainfall severely stroke Campania region (southern Italy), triggering numerous debris flows on the slopes of the San Martino Valle Caudina-Cervinara area. Soil slips originated within the weathered volcaniclastic mantle of soil cover overlying the carbonate skeleton of the massif. Debris slides turned into fast flowing mixtures of matrix and large blocks, downslope eroding the soil cover and increasing their original volume. At the base of the slopes, debris flows impacted on the urban areas, causing victims and severe destruction (Vittori et al., 2000). Starting from a recent study on landslide risk conditions in Campania, carried out by the Regional Authority (PAI –Hydrogeological setting plan, in press), an evaluation of the debris-flow susceptibility has been performed for selected areas of the above mentioned villages. According to that study, such zones would be in fact characterised by the highest risk levels within the administrative boundaries of the same villages ("HR-zones"). Our susceptibility analysis has been performed by applying SCIDDICA S3–hex – a hexagonal Cellular Automata model (von Neumann, 1966), specifically developed for simulating the spatial evolution of debris flows (Iovine et al., 2002). In order to apply the model to a given study area, detailed topographic data and a map of the erodable soil cover overlying the bedrock of the massif must be provided (as input matrices); moreover, extent and location of landslide source must also be given. Real landslides, selected among those triggered on winter 1999, have first been utilised for calibrating SCIDDICA S3–hex and for defining "optimal" values for parameters. Calibration has been carried out with a GIS tool, by quantitatively comparing simulations with actual cases: optimal values correspond to best simulations. Through geological evaluations, source locations of new phenomena have then been hypothesised within the HR-zones. Initial volume for these new cases has been estimated by considering the actual statistics of the 1999 landslides. Finally, by merging the results of simulations, a deterministic susceptibility zonation of the considered area has been obtained. In this paper, aiming at illustrating the potential for debris-flow hazard analyses of the model SCIDDICA S3–hex, a methodological example of susceptibility zonation of the Vallicelle HR-zone is presented.