JUN 13, 2020 9:53 AM PDT

New model monitors landslide triggers

Research published in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface from scientists at Duke University details a new comprehensive model of deep-seated landslides. Their model, which looks specifically at the temperatures of the thin layers of clay at the base of landslides to predict triggers, claims to be able to accurately recreate the dynamics of historic and current landslides that occur under various conditions. 

"I published a paper more than a decade ago that explained what happened at the Vajont Dam, one of the biggest man-made disasters of all-time," said Manolis Veveakis, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Duke. "But that model was extremely limited and constrained to that specific event. This model is more complete. It can be applied to other landslides, providing stability criteria and guidance on when and how they can be averted."

While most models use measurements of velocity and water levels to explain the forces behind landslides, this research team was interested in measuring clay - and more specifically, the temperature of clay. 

"Clay is a very thermally sensitive material and it can create a shear band that is very susceptible to friction," said first author Carolina Segui. "It's the worst material to have in such a critical place [at the base of a landslide] and is a nightmare for civil engineers constructing anything anywhere."

Veveakis had previously developed a model to show how water seeping into the rock above an unstable layer of clay can cause a creeping landslide that ultimately heats up and further destabilizes the clay in a feedback loop, causing a landslide. This new model builds on the previous one to provide real-time assessments

“[Other models] don’t explain the underlying physics. Our model incorporates the properties of soft materials, allowing it to be applied to more landslides with different loading characteristics and provide an operational stability criterion by monitoring its basal temperature," says Veveakis.

Photo: Pixabay

The model is currently being used to monitor a slow-moving landslide in the el Forn region of Andorra. They hope to use their model to monitor the evolution of the landslide and suggest methods for mitigating the risk of its escalation.

Sources: Journal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface, Eureka Alert

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
SEP 26, 2020
Microbiology
Eliminating Biofilms with Green Tea-Derived Nanobots
SEP 26, 2020
Eliminating Biofilms with Green Tea-Derived Nanobots
Bacteria are everywhere in our world, and while the vast majority are harmless, some can cause dangerous infections. Bac ...
SEP 25, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Colossal Study for the Missing (Anti)Matter
SEP 25, 2020
Colossal Study for the Missing (Anti)Matter
Physicists believe that our observable universe exists in a mirrored configuration: any fundamental particle such as pro ...
OCT 05, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Improving microbial elecrosynthesis
OCT 05, 2020
Improving microbial elecrosynthesis
New research from a KAUST team highlights the development of a semiconductive photocatalyst that recycles CO2 and c ...
DEC 10, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
This membrane cleans itself using sunlight
DEC 10, 2020
This membrane cleans itself using sunlight
The development of a self-cleaning membrane holds many implications for industrial water treatment plants. The membrane, ...
JAN 05, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Liquid glass: a new state of matter
JAN 05, 2021
Liquid glass: a new state of matter
New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports the discovery of a new state ...
JAN 17, 2021
Space & Astronomy
New Way to Extract Energy from Black Holes
JAN 17, 2021
New Way to Extract Energy from Black Holes
In his theory of general relativity, Einstein predicted that black holes harbor an enormous amount of energy. And now, r ...
Loading Comments...