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Modeling landslide recurrence in Seattle, Washington, USA

January 1, 2008

To manage the hazard associated with shallow landslides, decision makers need an understanding of where and when landslides may occur. A variety of approaches have been used to estimate the hazard from shallow, rainfall-triggered landslides, such as empirical rainfall threshold methods or probabilistic methods based on historical records. The wide availability of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and digital topographic data has led to the development of analytic methods for landslide hazard estimation that couple steady-state hydrological models with slope stability calculations. Because these methods typically neglect the transient effects of infiltration on slope stability, results cannot be linked with historical or forecasted rainfall sequences. Estimates of the frequency of conditions likely to cause landslides are critical for quantitative risk and hazard assessments. We present results to demonstrate how a transient infiltration model coupled with an infinite slope stability calculation may be used to assess shallow landslide frequency in the City of Seattle, Washington, USA. A module called CRF (Critical RainFall) for estimating deterministic rainfall thresholds has been integrated in the TRIGRS (Transient Rainfall Infiltration and Grid-based Slope-Stability) model that combines a transient, one-dimensional analytic solution for pore-pressure response to rainfall infiltration with an infinite slope stability calculation. Input data for the extended model include topographic slope, colluvial thickness, initial water-table depth, material properties, and rainfall durations. This approach is combined with a statistical treatment of rainfall using a GEV (General Extreme Value) probabilistic distribution to produce maps showing the shallow landslide recurrence induced, on a spatially distributed basis, as a function of rainfall duration and hillslope characteristics.

Publication Year 2008
Title Modeling landslide recurrence in Seattle, Washington, USA
Authors Diana Salciarini, Jonathan W. Godt, William Z. Savage, Rex L. Baum, Pietro Conversini
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Engineering Geology
Index ID 70003667
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geologic Hazards Science Center