Articles | Volume 7, issue 6
22 Nov 2007
22 Nov 2007

Evaluation of seismic effects on the landslide deposits of Monte Salta (Eastern Italian Alps) using distinct element method

G. Marcato, K. Fujisawa, M. Mantovani, A. Pasuto, S. Silvano, F. Tagliavini, and L. Zabuski

Abstract. The aim of the paper is to present the modelling of the ground effects of seismic waves on a large debris deposit lying on a steep mountain slope, with particular attention paid to the potential triggering of slope movements.

The study site is a mass of 2.5 million m3 rock fall deposit, named "Monte Salta Landslide", located on the northern slope of the Vajont valley, at the border between Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions in north-eastern Italy.

Several historical landslide events were reported in the area in the past, first one dating back to the 17th century. The landslide deposit completely mantles the slope with a thick cover of rock blocks.

The Mt. Salta landslide is conditioned by the presence of Mt. BorgĂ  regional thrust, which uplifts Jurassic limestone on the top of Cretaceous rock units. Above the thrust zone, folded and highly fractured rock mass dips steeply towards the slope free face, producing highly unstable setting.

The study area has been classified as high seismic hazard and different vulnerable elements can be affected by the remobilisation of debris, among which a village, a national road and a big quarry that was opened, with the intent to exploit the part of the landslide deposit for construction purposes.

In this study, numerical analysis was performed, to simulate the slope behaviour using distinct element method and applying UDEC code. The 2-D models were built on three cross-sections and elasto-plastic behaviour was assumed, both for rock matrix and discontinuities. The earthquake effect was modelled in pseudo-dynamic way, i.e. by magnifying the acceleration and applying also its horizontal component. The expected seismic acceleration in the study area was calculated on the basis of previous studies as equal to 0.28 g.

The results proved that the increase of the vertical component alone has a small influence on the deformational behaviour of the system. Hence, the acceleration vector was deviated at 5° and then at 10° from the vertical. A small increment of the displacement was observed in the first case, whereas very large movements occurred in the second. Therefore, it can be concluded that, besides the magnitude of the earthquake, even small seismic waves in horizontal direction could trigger significant movements and therefore hazardous conditions. The modelled scenario should be helpful for planning of the functional countermeasure works and civil defence evacuation plan.