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Mountain risks: two case histories of landslides induced by artificial rainfall on steep slopes


Mountainous areas tend to be exposed to an enhanced risk of damage caused by natural hazards; most often exacerbated by the topography (leading to gravitational mass movements such as avalanches, landslides, mud and debris flows). This contribution compares landslides induced by artificial rainfall on two different areas located in Switzerland. One field test site was located on slopes above Saas Balen (Gruben glacier, Canton Wallis, Switzerland) and was instrumented. Artificial rainfall tests were carried out in the summers of 1999 and 2000 to investigate hydro-mechanical mechanisms of instability (Teysseire et al., 2000). Shallow failure occurred in the steeper instrumented slope in 2000. The second test field is located near Ruedlingen (Canton Schaffhausen, Switzerland). A landslide triggering experiment was carried out there in autumn 2008 and spring 2009 to replicate the effects of a heavy rainfall event of May 2002, in which 100 mm rain fell in 40 minutes, causing 42 superficial landslides. The slope was subjected to extreme rainfall by artificial means in October 2008 and in March 2009, triggering about 130 m3 of debris. Infiltration of rainfall has led to surface instability slopes in an alpine moraine (Gruben) and in silty sand (Ruedlingen). Both slopes were steeper than the internal angle of friction, having different initial degrees of saturation and suction. The hydromechanical behaviour of these two field full scale landslides will be compared, trying to expose a deeper understanding of the rainfall induced failure mechanisms.


Askarinejad, Amin and Casini, Francesca and Kienzler, Peter and Teysseire, Philipp and Springman, Sarah M.

Index Terms:

SoilGroup; landslides; rainfall; steep slope; Askarinejad, Amin; Casini, Francesca; Kienzler, Peter; Springman, Sarah M.; Teysseire, Philipp

Further Information:

Date published: 2010