Articles | Volume 3, issue 1/2
30 Apr 2003
30 Apr 2003

Distributed modelling of shallow landslides triggered by intense rainfall

G. B. Crosta and P. Frattini

Abstract. Hazard assessment of shallow landslides represents an important aspect of land management in mountainous areas. Among all the methods proposed in the literature, physically based methods are the only ones that explicitly includes the dynamic factors that control landslide triggering (rainfall pattern, land-use). For this reason, they allow forecasting both the temporal and the spatial distribution of shallow landslides. Physically based methods for shallow landslides are based on the coupling of the infinite slope stability analysis with hydrological models. Three different grid-based distributed hydrological models are presented in this paper: a steady state model, a transient "piston-flow" wetting front model, and a transient diffusive model. A comparative test of these models was performed to simulate landslide occurred during a rainfall event (27–28 June 1997) that triggered hundreds of shallow landslides within Lecco province (central Southern Alps, Italy). In order to test the potential for a completely distributed model for rainfall-triggered landslides, radar detected rainfall intensity has been used. A new procedure for quantitative evaluation of distributed model performance is presented and used in this paper. The diffusive model results in the best model for the simulation of shallow landslide triggering after a rainfall event like the one that we have analysed. Finally, radar data available for the June 1997 event permitted greatly improving the simulation. In particular, radar data allowed to explain the non-uniform distribution of landslides within the study area.