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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  06 Mar 2020

06 Mar 2020

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A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

The Potential of Smartstone Probes in Landslide Experiments: How to Read Motion Data

Bastian Dost1, Oliver Gronz1, Markus Casper1, and Andreas Krein2 Bastian Dost et al.
  • 1Trier University, Campus II, Behringstraße, D-54296 Trier
  • 2Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, Maison de l'Innovation, 5, avenue des Hauts-Fourneaux, L-4362 Esch-sur-Alzette

Abstract. Currently, findings in landslide laboratory experiments are limited by observation techniques, which either deliver only external information (e.g. using high-speed videos), or internal information using wired sensors that confine the free motion of the mass. However, an unconfined internal observation of the internal dynamics of a moving landslide mass is essential for an adequate understanding of these natural hazards.

The present study introduces an autonomous and wireless probe to characterise motion features of single clasts within artificial laboratory-scale landslides. The Smartstone probe is based on an inertial measurement unit (IMU) and records acceleration and rotation at a sampling rate of 100 Hz. The recording ranges are ± 16 g (accelerometer) and ± 2000° s−1 (gyroscope). The plastic tube housing is 55 mm long with a diameter of 10 mm. The probe is controlled and data is read out via active radio frequency identification (active RFID) technology. Due to this technique, the probe works under low-power conditions enabling the use of small button cell batteries and minimising its size.

Using the Smartstone probe, the motion of approx. 520 kg of an uniformly-graded pebble material was observed in a laboratory experiment. Single pebbles were equipped with probes and placed embedded and superficially in/on the mass. In a first analysis step, the data of one pebble is interpreted qualitatively, allowing for the determination of different transport modes, such as translation, rotation and saltation. In a second step, the motion was quantified my means of derived movement characteristics: The analysed pebble moved mainly in vertical direction during the first motion phase with a maximal vertical velocity of approx. 1.7 m s−1. A strong acceleration peak of approx. 36 m s−2 was interpreted as pronounced hit and led to a complex rotational motion pattern. In a third step, displacement was derived and amounts to approx. 1.1 m in vertical direction. The deviation compared to laser distance measurements was approx. −10 %. Furthermore, a full 3-dimensional spatiotemporal trajectory of the pebble was reconstructed and visualised supporting the interpretations. Finally, it is demonstrated that multiple pebbles can be analysed simultaneously within one experiment, allowing for motion sampling of different parts of a moving landslide.

Bastian Dost et al.

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Video supplement

The Potential of Smartstone Probes in Landslide Experiments. Supplementary Video 1 Bastian Dost, Oliver Gronz, Markus Casper, and Andreas Krein

Bastian Dost et al.


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Latest update: 29 Sep 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
We show the potential to observe the unconfined internal motion behavior of single clasts in landslides using a wireless sensor measuring acceleration and rotation. The probe's dimensions are 10 × 55 mm. It measures up to 16 g and 2000°/s with 100 Hz sampling rate. From the data, we derive: transport mode, velocity, displacement, and three-dimensional trajectories of several probes. Results are verified by high speed image analysis and laser distance measurements.
We show the potential to observe the unconfined internal motion behavior of single clasts in...