Articles | Volume 9, issue 3
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 9, 739–749, 2009
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 9, 739–749, 2009

  18 May 2009

18 May 2009

The effect of groundwater fluctuations on the velocity pattern of slow-moving landslides

Th. W. J. van Asch1,3, J.-P. Malet2, and T. A. Bogaard3 Th. W. J. van Asch et al.
  • 1Utrecht University, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 2School and Observatory of Earth Sciences, Institute of Earth Physics, CNRS & University of Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France
  • 3Delft Univ. of Technology, Water Resources Section, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Delft, The Netherlands

Abstract. Slow-moving landslides show complex mechanical and fluid interactions. They show among others non linear intrinsic viscosity of the shear zone, undrained loading effects and the generation of excess pore water pressure. The parameterization of hydrological and geomechanical factors by field and laboratory tests to describe the movement pattern of these landslides is difficult. It is a challenge to simulate accurately the de- and acceleration of these landslides and particularly, to forecast catastrophic surges.

In this paper the relation between groundwater fluctuation and landslide velocity for two deep-seated landslides of the Trièves Plateau (the Monestier-du-Percy landslide and the Saint-Guillaume landslide) is analysed. Inclinometer measurements, showing the displacement in depth after 1–2 months periods, showed on both landslides shear band deformation within 1 m. At the Monestier-du-Percy landslide, depending on the position, the shear band depths vary between 25.0 m and 10.0 m. At the Saint-Guillaume landslide, the inclinometers detected several slip surfaces inside the clays, at respectively 37.0 m, 34.5 m, and 14.0 m depth. Two simple geomechanical models are developed to describe these displacements in depth in relation to measured groundwater fluctuations. Calibration of the models using the friction angle delivered no constant values for different measuring periods. It appeared that calibrated (apparent) friction values increase with increasing groundwater levels. The paper discusses the possibility of the generation of negative excess pore water pressures as a feed back mechanism, which may explain the complex displacement pattern of these landslides developed in varved clays.