Natural Hazards

, Volume 81, Issue 2, pp 887–907 | Cite as

Developing an early warning system for a very slow landslide based on displacement monitoring

  • Renato Macciotta
  • Michael Hendry
  • C. Derek Martin
Original Paper


The Ripley Landslide is a soil slide moving on a fully developed, sub-horizontal, shear surface. The landslide represents a hazard for two important railway lines across its toe. The landslide is being monitored by an array of displacement measurement systems including GPS units, a ShapeAccelArray (SAA), satellite InSAR, and crack extension metres, as well as an array of piezometers targeting pore water pressures in the vicinity of the shear surface. The displacement monitoring system shows an annual cycle of slope deformations most active between September and May. Annual horizontal displacements range between 60 and 100 mm. Vertical displacements range between 20 and 80 mm of settlement. The average horizontal velocities during the active displacement period are between 0.2 and 0.35 mm/day, with maximum velocities of up to 0.6 mm/day. This paper describes the development of an early warning system based on landslide displacement measurements. The system is based on GPS and SAA measurements, which provide near real-time displacement data. The early warning system focuses on detecting changes in landslide annual displacement cycles and potential accelerations, as well as the effects of slope deformation on the railway alignment. As such, the system monitors both the integrity and performance of the slope.


Landslide Landslide monitoring Early warning Hazard management 



This research was made possible by the (Canadian) Railway Ground Hazard Research Program, which is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian National Railway, and Transport Canada. Both BGC Engineering and Ian Chadwick from EDH Consulting contributed greatly to this analysis through the results of their investigations and monitoring. The authors thank the Cooks Ferry Indian Band for allowing access to Basque Ranch during this study. The corner reflectors were acquired and installed with funding from the Geological Survey of Canada and Transport Canada.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Renato Macciotta
    • 1
  • Michael Hendry
    • 2
  • C. Derek Martin
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  3. 3.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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