Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 63, Issue 1, pp 65–75 | Cite as

Examination of influences of rainfall patterns on shallow landslides due to dissipation of matric suction

  • Tung-Lin Tsai
  • Jyun-Kai Wang
Original Article


The influences of rainfall patterns on shallow landslides due to the dissipation of matric suction are examined in this study. Four representative rainfall patterns including the uniform, advanced, intermediated, and delayed rainfalls are adopted. The results show that not only the occurrence of shallow landslides but also the failure depth and the time of failure are affected by the rainfall pattern. The different rainfall patterns seem to have the same minimum landslide-triggering rainfall amount. There is a rainfall duration threshold for landslide occurrence for a rainfall event with larger than the minimum landslide-triggering rainfall amount. For each rainfall pattern, the rainfall duration threshold for landslide occurrence decreases to constant with the increase of rainfall amount. The uniform rainfall has the least rainfall duration threshold for landslide occurrence, followed by the advanced rainfall, and then the intermediated rainfall. For each rainfall pattern, the failure depths and the times of failure from the same amount of rainfall with different durations could be largely different. In addition, the differences of the failure depths and the times of failure between various rainfall patterns with the same amount and duration of rainfall could be also significant. The failure depth and the time of failure, as compared with the occurrence of shallow landslides, are more sensitive to the rainfall condition. In other words, in comparison with the evaluation of the occurrence of shallow landslides, it needs more accurate rainfall prediction to achieve reliable estimations of the failure depth and the time of failure.


Shallow landslides Matric suction Rainfall pattern 

List of symbols


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


Effective cohesion


Water depth


Slope depth


Factor of safety


The specific gravity of soil solid


Rainfall intensity


Saturated hydraulic conductivity


Hydraulic conductivity in lateral direction (x and y)


Hydraulic conductivities in slope-normal direction (z)


The degree of saturation


The residual degree of saturation


The effective saturation


Fitting parameter


Fitting parameter


Rainfall duration


Pore air pressure


Pore water pressure


The coordinates


Total normal stress


Groundwater pressure head


Soil volumetric water content


Saturated volumetric water content


Residual volumetric water content


Slope angle


Effective friction angle


Fitting parameter


The parameter for shear strength of unsaturated soil

\( \overline{\gamma } \)

The depth-averaged unit weight of soil


The unit weight of water



This study was funded by the National Science Council of the Republic of China under grant nos. NSC 97-2625-M-415-001 and NSC-98-2625-M-415-001-MY2.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil and Water Resources EngineeringNational Chiayi UniversityChiayi CityTaiwan

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