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Comparing root cohesion estimates from three models at a shallow landslide in the Oregon Coast Range

September 1, 2022

Although accurate root cohesion model estimates are essential to quantify the effect of vegetation roots on shallow slope stability, few means exist to independently validate such model outputs. One validation approach for cohesion estimates is back-calculation of apparent root cohesion at a landslide site with well-documented failure conditions. The catchment named CB1, near Coos Bay, Oregon, USA, which experienced a shallow landslide in 1996, is a prime locality for cohesion model validation, as an abundance of data and observations from the site generated broad insights related to hillslope hydrology and slope stability. However, previously published root cohesion values at CB1 used the Wu and Waldron model (WWM), which assumes simultaneous root failure and therefore likely overestimates root cohesion. Reassessing published cohesion estimates from this site is warranted, as more recently developed models include the fiber bundle model (FBM), which simulates progressive failure with load redistribution, and the root bundle model-Weibull (RBMw), which accounts for differential strain loading. We applied the WWM, FBM, and RBMw at CB1 using post-failure root data from five vegetation species. At CB1, the FBM and RBMw predict values that are less than 30% of the WWM-estimated values. All three models show that root cohesion has substantial spatial heterogeneity. Most parts of the landslide scarp have little root cohesion, with areas of high cohesion concentrated near plant roots. These findings underscore the importance of using physically realistic models and considering lateral and vertical spatial heterogeneity of root cohesion in shallow landslide initiation and provide a necessary step towards independently assessing root cohesion model validity.

Publication Year 2022
Title Comparing root cohesion estimates from three models at a shallow landslide in the Oregon Coast Range
DOI 10.3390/geohazards3030022
Authors Collin Cronkite-Ratcliff, Kevin M. Schmidt, Charlotte Wirion
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title GeoHazards
Index ID 70236341
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center