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Controls on post-seismic landslide behaviour in brittle rocks

Brain, M.J. and Moya, S. and Kincey, M.E. and Tunstall, N. and Petley, D.N. and Sepúlveda, S.A. (2021) 'Controls on post-seismic landslide behaviour in brittle rocks.', Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 126 (9). e2021JF006242.

Abstract

Earthquakes trigger widespread landsliding in tectonically-active landscapes. The effects of strong ground shaking on hillslope stability persist into the post-seismic stage; rates of landsliding remain elevated in the years following an earthquake. The mechanisms that control the spatial pattern and rate of ongoing landsliding are poorly constrained, hindering our ability to reliably forecast how landscapes and landslide hazard evolve. To address this, we undertook a detailed geotechnical investigation in which we subjected representative rock samples to dynamic loading, simulating the effects of earthquake ground shaking on hillslopes of different configuration. Our results indicate that post-seismic hillslope strength is not an intrinsic rock property; rather, it responds to the amplitude of imposed dynamic loads and the degree of pre-existing shear surface formation within the rock. This path-dependent behaviour results from differences in the character of fractures generated by dynamic loads of different amplitude, and the ways in which apertures are mobilised or degraded in subsequent (post-seismic) shearing. Sensitivity to dynamic loading amplitude is greater in shallow landslides in which shear surfaces are yet to fully form; such hillslopes can be strengthened or weakened by earthquake events, depending on their characteristics. In contrast, deeper landslides on steeper hillslopes in which shear surfaces have largely developed are less likely to display differences in behaviour in response to dynamic loading because strain accumulation along pre-existing fractures is dominant. Our results demonstrate the need to consider path-dependent hillslope stability in numerical models used to forecast how landscapes respond to earthquakes and how post-seismic hazard evolves.

Item Type:Article
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo
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Status:Peer-reviewed
Publisher Web site:https://doi.org/10.1029/2021JF006242
Publisher statement:© 2021. The Authors.This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited
Date accepted:31 August 2021
Date deposited:06 September 2021
Date of first online publication:04 September 2021
Date first made open access:17 September 2021

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