Seismic detection and characterization of landslides and other mass movements
- Grup d’Allaus (RISKNAT Research Group), Dept. Geodinàmica i Geofísica, Fac. de Geologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Martí i Franquès s/n, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
Abstract. Seismic methods used in the study of snow avalanches may be employed to detect and characterize landslides and other mass movements, using standard spectrogram/sonogram analysis. For snow avalanches, the spectrogram for a station that is approached by a sliding mass exhibits a triangular time/frequency signature due to an increase over time in the higher-frequency constituents. Recognition of this characteristic footprint in a spectrogram suggests a useful metric for identifying other mass-movement events such as landslides. The 1 June 2005 slide at Laguna Beach, California is examined using data obtained from the Caltech/USGS Regional Seismic Network. This event exhibits the same general spectrogram features observed in studies of Alpine snow avalanches. We propose that these features are due to the systematic relative increase in high-frequency energy transmitted to a seismometer in the path of a mass slide owing to a reduction of distance from the source signal. This phenomenon is related to the path of the waves whose high frequencies are less attenuated as they traverse shorter source-receiver paths. Entrainment of material in the course of the slide may also contribute to the triangular time/frequency signature as a consequence of the increase in the energy involved in the process; in this case the contribution would be a source effect. By applying this commonly observed characteristic to routine monitoring algorithms, along with custom adjustments for local site effects, we seek to contribute to the improvement in automatic detection and monitoring methods of landslides and other mass movements.