, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 37–54 | Cite as

Control of landslide retrogression by discontinuities: evidence by the integration of airborne- and ground-based geophysical information

  • J. Travelletti
  • J.-P. Malet
  • K. Samyn
  • G. Grandjean
  • M. Jaboyedoff
Original Paper


The objective of this work is to present a multitechnique approach to define the geometry, the kinematics, and the failure mechanism of a retrogressive large landslide (upper part of the La Valette landslide, South French Alps) by the combination of airborne and terrestrial laser scanning data and ground-based seismic tomography data. The advantage of combining different methods is to constrain the geometrical and failure mechanism models by integrating different sources of information. Because of an important point density at the ground surface (4. 1 points m−2), a small laser footprint (0.09 m) and an accurate three-dimensional positioning (0.07 m), airborne laser scanning data are adapted as a source of information to analyze morphological structures at the surface. Seismic tomography surveys (P-wave and S-wave velocities) may highlight the presence of low-seismic-velocity zones that characterize the presence of dense fracture networks at the subsurface. The surface displacements measured from the terrestrial laser scanning data over a period of 2 years (May 2008–May 2010) allow one to quantify the landslide activity at the direct vicinity of the identified discontinuities. An important subsidence of the crown area with an average subsidence rate of 3.07 m year–1 is determined. The displacement directions indicate that the retrogression is controlled structurally by the preexisting discontinuities. A conceptual structural model is proposed to explain the failure mechanism and the retrogressive evolution of the main scarp. Uphill, the crown area is affected by planar sliding included in a deeper wedge failure system constrained by two preexisting fractures. Downhill, the landslide body acts as a buttress for the upper part. Consequently, the progression of the landslide body downhill allows the development of dip-slope failures, and coherent blocks start sliding along planar discontinuities. The volume of the failed mass in the crown area is estimated at 500,000 m3 with the sloping local base level method.


Slope failure ALS data TLS data Seismic tomography Discontinuity Geological model 



This work was supported by the European Commission under the Marie Curie Contract Mountain risks: from prediction to management and governance” (FP6, MCRTN-035798; 2007–2010) and by the French Ministry of Research within the project “SISCA: Système Intégré de Surveillance de Crises de glissements de terrain argileux” (Contract ANR Risk-Nat, 2009–2012). The authors would like to acknowledge Mr. Georges Guiter and Mr. Michel Peyron from Restauration des Terrains en Montagne (Office of Barcelonnette) for their assistance and discussion in the field. The authors are also grateful to Mr. Grzegorz Skupinski (University of Strasbourg) for his support in the acquisition of the TLS data. The authors are also grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Travelletti
    • 1
    • 2
  • J.-P. Malet
    • 1
  • K. Samyn
    • 3
  • G. Grandjean
    • 3
  • M. Jaboyedoff
    • 4
  1. 1.Institut de Physique du Globe de Strasbourg, CNRS UMR 7516University of Strasbourg (EOST)Strasbourg CedexFrance
  2. 2.GEOPHEN-LETG, CNRS UMR 6554University of Caen Basse-NormandieCaen CedexFrance
  3. 3.Bureau des Recherches Géologiques et Minières (BRGM)OrléansFrance
  4. 4.Institute of Geomatics and Analysis of Risk (IGAR)University of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland

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