Seismic-induced rockfalls and landslide dam following the October 30, 2016 earthquake in Central Italy
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On October 30, 2016, a seismic event and its aftershocks produced diffuse landslides along the SP 209 road in the Nera River Gorge (Central Italy). Due to the steep slopes and the outcropping of highly fractured and bedded limestone, several rockfalls were triggered, of which the main event occurred on the slope of Mount Sasso Pizzuto. The seismic shock acted on a rock wedge that, after an initial slide, developed into a rockfall. The debris accumulation blocked the SP 209 road and dammed the Nera River, forming a small lake. The river discharge was around 3.6 m3/s; the water overtopped the dam and flooded the road. By a preliminary topographic survey, we estimated that the debris accumulation covers an area of about 16,500 m2, while the volume is around 70,000 m3. The maximum volume occupied by the pre-existing talus mobilized by the rockfall is about 20% of the total volume. Besides blocking the road, the rockfall damaged a bridge severely, while, downstream of the dam, the water flow caused erosion of a road embankment. A rockfall protection gallery, a few hundred meters downstream of the dam, was damaged during the event. Other elastic nets and rigid barriers were not sufficient to protect the road from single-block rockfalls, with volumes around 1–2 m3. Considering the geological and geomorphological conditions, as well as the high seismicity and the socioeconomic importance of the area, a review of the entire rockfall protection systems is required to ensure protection of critical infrastructure and local communities.
KeywordsRockfalls Seismic-induced landslide Landslide dam Nera River Central Italy earthquake
Authors wish to thank the ERG Hydro (Production Unit) which kindly provided discharge data of Nera River.
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