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Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Petley, D.N., Higuchi, T., Petley, D.J., Bulmer, M.H. & Carey, J. Development of progressive landslide failure in cohesive materials. Geology. 2005;33:201-204.

Author(s) from Durham


The development of progressive failure in slopes is a poorly understood process, and relatively few advances in terms of the mechanics of the development of failure have been made since 1967. However, advances in the understanding of the development of fractures in brittle materials provide new insights into landslide mechanics. In addition, the link between the deformation mechanism and movement type allows interpretation of displacement records to determine the mechanisms acting within a slope. This paper utilizes these insights into deformation processes, combined with “reinflation” stress-path triaxial experiments, to propose a new model for the development of a progressive, first-time failure within a slope. This model is able to explain the development of failure when the factor of safety is greater than unity, the existence of “Saito” linearity (a linear trend when the reciprocal of velocity prior to failure is plotted against time) during tertiary creep, and the development of failures during periods of apparently increasing normal effective stress.


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Department of Geography