Articles | Volume 9, issue 6
25 Nov 2009
 | 25 Nov 2009

An equivalent fluid/equivalent medium approach for the numerical simulation of coastal landslides propagation: theory and case studies

P. Mazzanti and F. Bozzano

Abstract. Coastal and subaqueous landslides can be very dangerous phenomena since they are characterised by the additional risk of induced tsunamis, unlike their completely-subaerial counterparts. Numerical modelling of landslides propagation is a key step in forecasting the consequences of landslides. In this paper, a novel approach named Equivalent Fluid/Equivalent Medium (EFEM) has been developed. It adapts common numerical models and software that were originally designed for subaerial landslides in order to simulate the propagation of combined subaerial-subaqueous and completely-subaqueous landslides. Drag and buoyancy forces, the loss of energy at the landslide-water impact and peculiar mechanisms like hydroplaning can be suitably simulated by this approach; furthermore, the change in properties of the landslide's mass, which is encountered at the transition from the subaerial to the submerged environment, can be taken into account. The approach has been tested by modelling two documented coastal landslides (a debris flow and a rock slide at Lake Albano) using the DAN-W code. The results, which were achieved from the back-analyses, demonstrate the efficacy of the approach to simulate the propagation of different types of coastal landslides.