10 Nov 2023
 | 10 Nov 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Assessing Locations Susceptible to Landslide Initiation During Prolonged Intense Rainfall in the Lares, Utuado, and Naranjito Municipios of Puerto Rico

Rex L. Baum, Dianne L. Brien, Mark E. Reid, William H. Schulz, and Matthew J. Tello

Abstract. Hurricane María induced about 70,000 landslides throughout Puerto Rico, USA, including thousands each in three municipalities situated in Puerto Rico’s rugged Cordillera Central range. By combining a nonlinear soil-depth model, presumed wettest-case pore pressures, and quasi-three-dimensional (3D) slope-stability analysis we developed a landslide susceptibility map that has very good performance and continuous susceptibility zones having smooth, buffered boundaries. Our landslide susceptibility map enables assessment of (1) potential ground-failure locations, and (2) areas of potential landslide sources to support a companion assessment of inundation and debris-flow runout. The quasi-3D factor of safety, F3, showed strong inverse correlation to landslide density (high density at low F3). Area under the curve (AUC) of True Positive Rate (TPR) versus False Positive Rate indicated success of F3 in identifying head-scarp points (AUC=0.84) and source-area polygons (0.85 ≤ AUC ≤ 0.88). The susceptibility zones enclose specific percentages of observed landslides. Thus, zone boundaries use successive F3 levels for increasing TPR of landslide head-scarp points, with zones bounded by F3 at TPR=0.75, very high; F3 at TPR=0.90, high; and the remainder moderate to low. The very high susceptibility zone, with 118 landslides/km2, covered 23 % of the three municipalities. The high zone (51 landslides/km2) covered another 10 %.

Rex L. Baum et al.

Status: open (until 27 Dec 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Rex L. Baum et al.

Data sets

Engineering soil classification and geotechnical measurements in Lares, Naranjito, and Utuado, Puerto Rico R. L. Baum and A. C. Lewis

Model input and output data covering Lares Municipio, Utuado Municipio, and Naranjito Municipio, Puerto Rico, for landslide initiation susceptibility assessment after Hurricane Maria R. L. Baum, D. L. Brien, M. E. Reid, W. H. Schulz, M. J. Tello, and E. C. Bedinger

Field observations of landslides and related materials following Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico W. H. Schulz, E. K. Jensen, C. R. Cerovski-Darriau, R. L. Baum, M. A. Thomas, and J. A. Coe

Model code and software

Slabs3D—A Fortran 95 program for analyzing potential shallow landslides in a digital landscape R. L. Baum

REGOLITH--A Fortran 95 program for estimating soil mantle thickness in a digital landscape for landslide and debris-flow hazard assessment R. L. Baum, E. C. Bedinger, and M. J. Tello

Rex L. Baum et al.


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Short summary
We mapped potential for heavy rainfall to cause landslides in part of the central mountains of Puerto Rico using new tools for estimating soil depth and quasi-3D slope stability. Potential ground-failure locations correlate well with the spatial density of landslides from Hurricane Maria. The smooth boundaries of the very high and high ground-failure susceptibility zones enclose 75 and 90 percent, respectively, of observed landslides. The maps can help mitigate ground-failure hazards.