Landsliding in partially saturated materials



[1] Rainfall-induced landslides are pervasive in hillslope environments around the world and among the most costly and deadly natural hazards. However, capturing their occurrence with scientific instrumentation in a natural setting is extremely rare. The prevailing thinking on landslide initiation, particularly for those landslides that occur under intense precipitation, is that the failure surface is saturated and has positive pore-water pressures acting on it. Most analytic methods used for landslide hazard assessment are based on the above perception and assume that the failure surface is located beneath a water table. By monitoring the pore water and soil suction response to rainfall, we observed shallow landslide occurrence under partially saturated conditions for the first time in a natural setting. We show that the partially saturated shallow landslide at this site is predictable using measured soil suction and water content and a novel unified effective stress concept for partially saturated earth materials.