Effects of infiltration characteristics on the spatial-temporal evolution of stability of an interstate highway embankment

Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
By: , and 

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Abstract

Infiltration-induced landslides are among the most common natural disasters threatening modern civilization, but conventional methods for studying the triggering mechanisms and predicting the occurrence of these slides are limited by incomplete consideration of underlying physical processes and the lack of precision inherent in limit-equilibrium analyses. To address this problem the spatial-temporal evolution of failure is investigated in a seasonally unstable section of interstate highway embankment, known as the Straight Creek landslide, Colorado. The study includes multi-year site investigation, monitoring, and numerical simulation using a rigorous hydromechanical framework along with a field of local factor of safety method. The sensitivity of episodic landslide reactivation to infiltration characteristics is evaluated. Results indicate that annual cumulative snowmelt infiltration, which typically accounts for approximately 75% of total annual cumulative infiltration and occurs over a short period in the spring, has the most substantial impact on slide activation. The rate of snowmelt infiltration varies independently of annual cumulative snowmelt infiltration and cumulative infiltration in the previous year, but still affects antecedent soil moisture conditions at the onset of snowmelt infiltration and therefore also the level of slide activation. These findings are used to establish specific thresholds for exacerbated slide movement using annual snowpack accumulation, forecasted snowmelt rate, and the previous year’s snowmelt, an approach which may be applied for predicting movement at this and other recurring or potential slide sites.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Effects of infiltration characteristics on the spatial-temporal evolution of stability of an interstate highway embankment
Series title Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
DOI 10.1061/(ASCE)GT.1943-5606.0002127
Volume 145
Issue 9
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher ASCE
Contributing office(s) Geologic Hazards Science Center, Northwest Regional Director's Office, National Cooperative Geologic Mapping and Landslide Hazards
Description 05019008, 11 p.
Country United States
State Colorado
County Summit County
Other Geospatial Straight Creek Landslide