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Institute of Advanced Study

Landslides and Debris Flow Induced by Rainfall

Abstract

Rainfall infiltration weakens unsaturated earthen slopes, causing the soil mass to move rapidly downhill. Increased saturation and fluid flow are two important triggers of slope movement, and to date no physics-based modeling approach can represent the combined effects of these two factors in a systematic and quantitative way. In this article I briefly review a commonly used analytical approach based on the limit equilibrium methods for quantitative analysis of slope stability, and highlight their inability to handle the effect of rainfall infiltration on the triggering of slope failure. I describe an alternative analysis approach based on continuum modeling and show some examples where I have used this approach for studying the effect of rainfall infiltration on the stability and movement of unsaturated earthen slopes.

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