Analysis of infiltration, seepage processes and slope instability mechanisms during the November 2000 storm event in Tuscany
- Earth Sciences Department, University of Florence, Italy
Abstract. On the days 20-21 November 2000, a storm of exceptional intensity triggered over 50 landslides within the province of Pistoia in Tuscany (Italy). These failures are mostly of complex type, originating as rotational or translational landslides, and transforming into flows. Two of these landslides were investigated in this paper by modelling the ground water infiltration process, the pore water pressure variations, both positive and negative, and the effects of these variations on slope stability during the rainfall event. Morphometric and geotechnical analyses were carried out for both sites through a series of in-situ and laboratory tests, the results of which were used as input for the modelling process. In a first step the surface infiltration rate was simulated using a modified Chu (1978) approach for the Green and Ampt (1911) equations in case of unsteady rainfall together with a surficial water balance. A finite element seepage analysis for transient conditions was then employed to model the changes in pore water pressure during the event, using the computed infiltration rate as the ground surface boundary condition. Finally, once again using the data from the previous step as input, the limit equilibrium Morgenstern-Price (1965) slope stability method was applied to calculate the variations in the factor of safety during the event and thereby determine the most critical time of instability. In both sites this method produced a curve for the factor of safety that indicated that the most critical time for failure occurred a few hours after the peak of rainfall.