Environmental Geology

, Volume 50, Issue 4, pp 525–534 | Cite as

Modeling of rainfall-triggered shallow landslide

  • Tung-Lin Tsai
  • Jinn-Chuang Yang
Original Article


By integrating hydrological modeling with the infinite slope stability analysis, a rainfall-triggered shallow landslide model was developed by Iverson (Water Resour Res 36:1897-1910, 2000). In Iverson’s model, the infiltration capacity is assumed to be equivalent to the saturated hydraulic conductivity for finding pressure heads analytically. However, for general infiltration process, the infiltration capacity should vary with time during the period of rain, and the infiltration rate is significantly related to the variable infiltration capacity. To avoid the unrealistically high pressure heads, Iverson employed the beta-line correction by specifying that the simulated pressure heads cannot exceed those given by the beta line. In this study, the suitability of constant infiltration capacity together with the beta-line correction for hydrological modeling and landslide modeling of hillslope subjected to a rainfall is examined. By amending the boundary condition at ground surface of hillslope in Iverson’s model, the modified Iverson’s model with considering general infiltration process is developed to conduct this examination. The results show that the unrealistically high pressure heads from Iverson’s model occur due to the overestimation of infiltration rate induced from the assumption that the infiltration capacity is identical to the saturated hydraulic conductivity. Considering with the general infiltration process, the modified Iverson’s model gives acceptable results. In addition, even though the beta-line correction is applied, the Iverson’s model still produces greater simulated pressure heads and overestimates soil failure potential as compared with the modified Iverson’s model. Therefore, for assessing rainfall-triggered shallow landslide, the use of constant infiltration capacity together with the beta-line correction needs to be replaced by the consideration of general infiltration process.


Landslide Rainfall Infiltration Slope stability 



The change in volumetric water content per unit change in pressure head


The minimum value of C


Soil cohesion




Water depth


Slope depth


Factor of safety


Rainfall intensity

KL and KZ

The hydraulic conductivities in the lateral and slope-normal directions


Saturated hydraulic conductivity


Rainfall duration

x,y,z, and Z

The coordinates


Groundwater pressure head


Soil volumetric water content


Slope angle


Soil friction angle

γsat and γw

The unit weights of saturated soil and water


Grid size


Time step



Z directional computational point index


Grid point at slope base



Time step index


Time level at end of simulation


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Natural Hazard Mitigation Research CenterNational Chiao Tung UniversityHsinchuTaiwan
  2. 2.Department of Civil EngineeringNational Chiao Tung UniversityHsinchuTaiwan

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