Real - time prediction of rainfall induced instability of residual soil slopes associated with deep cracks

Suryo, Eko Andi (2013) Real - time prediction of rainfall induced instability of residual soil slopes associated with deep cracks. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The early warning based on real-time prediction of rain-induced instability of natural residual slopes helps to minimise human casualties due to such slope failures. Slope instability prediction is complicated, as it is influenced by many factors, including soil properties, soil behaviour, slope geometry, and the location and size of deep cracks in the slope. These deep cracks can facilitate rainwater infiltration into the deep soil layers and reduce the unsaturated shear strength of residual soil. Subsequently, it can form a slip surface, triggering a landslide even in partially saturated soil slopes. Although past research has shown the effects of surface-cracks on soil stability, research examining the influence of deep-cracks on soil stability is very limited. This study aimed to develop methodologies for predicting the real-time rain-induced instability of natural residual soil slopes with deep cracks. The results can be used to warn against potential rain-induced slope failures.

The literature review conducted on rain induced slope instability of unsaturated residual soil associated with soil crack, reveals that only limited studies have been done in the following areas related to this topic: - Methods for detecting deep cracks in residual soil slopes.

  • Practical application of unsaturated soil theory in slope stability analysis.

  • Mechanistic methods for real-time prediction of rain induced residual soil slope instability in critical slopes with deep cracks.

Two natural residual soil slopes at Jombok Village, Ngantang City, Indonesia, which are located near a residential area, were investigated to obtain the parameters required for the stability analysis of the slope. A survey first identified all related field geometrical information including slope, roads, rivers, buildings, and boundaries of the slope. Second, the electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) method was used on the slope to identify the location and geometrical characteristics of deep cracks. The two ERT array models employed in this research are: Dipole-dipole and Azimuthal. Next, bore-hole tests were conducted at different locations in the slope to identify soil layers and to collect undisturbed soil samples for laboratory measurement of the soil parameters required for the stability analysis. At the same bore hole locations, Standard Penetration Test (SPT) was undertaken. Undisturbed soil samples taken from the bore-holes were tested in a laboratory to determine the variation of the following soil properties with the depth: - Classification and physical properties such as grain size distribution, atterberg limits, water content, dry density and specific gravity.

  • Saturated and unsaturated shear strength properties using direct shear apparatus.

  • Soil water characteristic curves (SWCC) using filter paper method.

  • Saturated hydraulic conductivity.

The following three methods were used to detect and simulate the location and orientation of cracks in the investigated slope: (1) The electrical resistivity distribution of sub-soil obtained from ERT.

(2) The profile of classification and physical properties of the soil, based on laboratory testing of soil samples collected from bore-holes and visual observations of the cracks on the slope surface.

(3) The results of stress distribution obtained from 2D dynamic analysis of the slope using QUAKE/W software, together with the laboratory measured soil parameters and earthquake records of the area. It was assumed that the deep crack in the slope under investigation was generated by earthquakes.

A good agreement was obtained when comparing the location and the orientation of the cracks detected by Method-1 and Method-2. However, the simulated cracks in Method-3 were not in good agreement with the output of Method-1 and Method-2. This may have been due to the material properties used and the assumptions made, for the analysis. From Method-1 and Method-2, it can be concluded that the ERT method can be used to detect the location and orientation of a crack in a soil slope, when the ERT is conducted in very dry or very wet soil conditions. In this study, the cracks detected by the ERT were used for stability analysis of the slope.

The stability of the slope was determined using the factor of safety (FOS) of a critical slip surface obtained by SLOPE/W using the limit equilibrium method. Pore-water pressure values for the stability analysis were obtained by coupling the transient seepage analysis of the slope using finite element based software, called SEEP/W.

A parametric study conducted on the stability of an investigated slope revealed that the existence of deep cracks and their location in the soil slope are critical for its stability. The following two steps are proposed to predict the rain-induced instability of a residual soil slope with cracks.

(a) Step-1: The transient stability analysis of the slope is conducted from the date of the investigation (initial conditions are based on the investigation) to the preferred date (current date), using measured rainfall data. Then, the stability analyses are continued for the next 12 months using the predicted annual rainfall that will be based on the previous five years rainfall data for the area.

(b) Step-2: The stability of the slope is calculated in real-time using real-time measured rainfall. In this calculation, rainfall is predicted for the next hour or 24 hours and the stability of the slope is calculated one hour or 24 hours in advance using real time rainfall data.

If Step-1 analysis shows critical stability for the forthcoming year, it is recommended that Step-2 be used for more accurate warning against the future failure of the slope.

In this research, the results of the application of the Step-1 on an investigated slope (Slope-1) showed that its stability was not approaching a critical value for year 2012 (until 31st December 2012) and therefore, the application of Step-2 was not necessary for the year 2012.

A case study (Slope-2) was used to verify the applicability of the complete proposed predictive method. A landslide event at Slope-2 occurred on 31st October 2010. The transient seepage and stability analyses of the slope using data obtained from field tests such as Bore-hole, SPT, ERT and Laboratory tests, were conducted on 12th June 2010 following the Step-1 and found that the slope in critical condition on that current date. It was then showing that the application of the Step-2 could have predicted this failure by giving sufficient warning time.

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ID Code: 63775
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Gallage, Chaminda, Trigunarsyah, Bambang, Mochtar, Indrasurya B., & Soemitro, Ria Asih Aryani
Keywords: deep-crack, earthquake, electrical resistivity tomography (ERT), natural residual soil slope, predicted rainfall, rainfall-induced slope instability, real-time prediction, seepage analysis, slope stability analysis, unsaturated soil
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 28 Oct 2013 02:48
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2015 23:42

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