, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 173–184 | Cite as

Evaluation of landslide triggering mechanisms in model fill slopes

  • W. A. TakeEmail author
  • M. D. Bolton
  • P. C. P. Wong
  • F. J. Yeung
Original Articles


Hong Kong is particularly susceptible to landslide risk due to the steep natural topography and prolonged periods of high intensity rainfall. Compounding the risk of slope failure is the existence of loose fill slopes which were constructed prior to the 1970’s by end-tipping. A clear understanding of the underlying triggering mechanisms of fast landslides in fill slopes is required to analyse landslide risk and to optimise slope stabilisation strategies. The work described here had the objective of evaluating two candidate triggering mechanisms—static liquefaction and the transition from slide to flow due to localised transient pore water pressures—against observations of slope behaviour obtained from highly instrumented centrifuge model tests. These results indicate that static liquefaction is unlikely to occur if the model fill is unsaturated and the depth to bedrock large, as the high compressibility and mobility of air in the unsaturated void spaces allows the model fill slope to accommodate wetting collapse without initiating undrained failure. In contrast, high-speed failures with low-angle run-outs are shown to be easily triggered in model fill slopes from initially slow moving slips driven by localised transient pore water pressures arising from constricted seepage and material layering.


Triggering Slope stability Rainfall Centrifuge tests Layered soils 



The authors acknowledge funding by EPSRC Award GR/R91830/01, and the collaboration of the UK Highways Agency and the Geotechnical Engineering Office (GEO) of the Government of the HKSAR, China. The third and fourth authors are particularly grateful to the Head of the GEO and to the Director of Civil Engineering, for the opportunity to study in Cambridge for a year, on secondment from GEO.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. A. Take
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. D. Bolton
    • 2
  • P. C. P. Wong
    • 3
  • F. J. Yeung
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Civil EngineeringQueen’s UniversityOntarioCanada
  2. 2.Engineering DepartmentCambridge University
  3. 3.Civil Engineering DepartmentThe Government of the HKSARChina

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