Articles | Volume 35
26 Jun 2013
 | 26 Jun 2013

A strategy to address the task of seismic micro-zoning in landslide-prone areas

G. Vessia, M. Parise, and G. Tromba

Abstract. As concerns landslide prevention and mitigation policies at the urban scale, the ability of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to combine multi-layered information with high precision enables technicians and researchers to devote efforts in managing multiple hazards, such as seismically induced instability in urbanized areas. As a matter of fact, many villages in the Italian Apennines, placed near high-energy seismic sources, are characterized by active sliding that are seasonally remobilized by rainfall. GIS tools can be useful whether accurate Digital Elevation Models (DEM) are available and detailed mechanical and hydraulic characterization of superficial deposits over significant portion of the urban territory is undertaken. Moreover, the classic methods for estimating the seismic-induced permanent displacements within natural slopes are drawn from the generalization of Newmark's method. Such method can be applied to planar sliding mechanism that can be considered still valid wherever shallow landslides are generated by an earthquake. The failure mechanism depends on the mechanical properties of the superficial deposits. In this paper, the town of Castelfranci (Campania, southern Italy) has been studied. This small town, hosting two thousand inhabitants, suffers from the seasonal reactivation of landslides in clayey soil deposits due to rainfall. Furthermore, the site is seismically classified by means of the peak ground acceleration (PGA) equal to 0.246 g with respect to a 475 yr return period. Several studies on the evolution of slopes have been undertaken at Castelfranci and maps have been drawn at the urban scale not taking into any account the seismic hazard. This paper shows possible seismically induced hazard scenarios within the Castelfranci municipal territory aimed at microzonation of level 2, by estimating the slope permanent displacements comparable to those caused by the strongest historical seismic event that hit this area: the 1980 Irpinia earthquake. To this aim, geotechnical characterization of local soils collected over the last 25 yr by local technicians have been used to predict possible permanent displacements by means of Newmark's sliding block approach. Two simplified relationships relating peak ground acceleration and Arias intensity to permanent displacements have been used and compared. Although similar results are drawn, the two analyses point out the most hazardous sectors of the Castelfranci urban area.