Natural Hazards

, Volume 73, Issue 1, pp 37–62

Infiltration effects on a two-dimensional molecular dynamics model of landslides

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11069-013-0944-z

Cite this article as:
Martelloni, G. & Bagnoli, F. Nat Hazards (2014) 73: 37. doi:10.1007/s11069-013-0944-z


We propose a two-dimensional computational model for deep landslides triggered by rainfall, based on interacting particles or grains. The model describes a vertical section of a fictitious granular material along a slope, in order to study the behavior of a wide-thickness landslide. The triggering of the landslide is caused by the exceeding of two conditions: a threshold speed and a condition on the static friction of the particles, the latter based on the Mohr–Coulomb failure criterion (Coulomb in Mem Acad R Div Sav 7:343–387, 1776; Mohr in Abhandlungen aus dem Gebiete der Technischen Mechanik. Ernst, Berlin, 1914). The interparticle interactions are represented as a potential that, in the absence of suitable experimental data and due to the arbitrariness of the grain dimension, is modeled similarly to the Lennard-Jones’ one (Lennard-Jones in Proc R Soc Lond A 106(738):463–477, 1924), i.e., with an attractive and a repulsive part. For the updating of the particle positions, we use a molecular dynamics method, which is quite suitable for this type of systems (Herrmann and Luding in Continuum Mech Thermodyn 10:189–231, 1998). An infiltration scheme is introduced for modeling the increasing pore pressure due to the rainfall. Finally, we also introduce the viscosity in the dynamical equations of motion. The statistical characterization and dynamical behavior of the results of simulations are quite satisfactory relative to real landslides: We obtain a power law distribution of landslide triggering times, and the velocity patterns are typical of real cases, including the acceleration progression. Therefore, we can claim that this type of modeling can represent a new method to simulate landslides triggered by rainfall.


LandslideInfiltration modelMolecular dynamicsComputational technique

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physics and AstronomyCenter for the Study of Complex Dynamics (CSDC)Sesto Fiorentino (FI)Italy
  2. 2.INFN, Sez. FirenzeFlorenceItaly