An approach for characterising the weathering behaviour of Flysch slopes applied to the carbonatic Flysch of Alicante (Spain)

  • M. CanoEmail author
  • R. Tomás
Original Paper


Various studies indicate that most of the slope instabilities affecting Flysch heterogeneous rock masses are related to differential weathering of the lithologies that make up the slope. Therefore, the weathering characteristics of the intact rock are of great importance for the study of these types of slopes and their associated instability processes. The main aim of this study is to characterise the weathering properties of the different lithologies outcropping in the carbonatic Flysch of Alicante (Spain), in order to understand the effects of environmental weathering on them, following slope excavation. To this end, 151 strata samples obtained from 11 different slopes, 5–40 years old, were studied. The lithologies were identified and their mechanical characteristics obtained using field and laboratory tests. Additionally, the slaking properties of intact rocks were determined, and a classification system proposed based on the first and fifth slake cycles (Id1 and Id5 respectively) and an Index of Weathering (IW5), defined in the study. Information obtained from the laboratory and the field was used to characterise the weathering behaviour of the rocks. Furthermore, the slaking properties determined from laboratory tests were related to the in-situ weathering properties of rocks (i.e., the weathering profile, patterns and length, and weathering rate). The proposed relationship between laboratory test results, field data, and in-situ observations provides a useful tool for predicting the response of slopes to weathering after excavation during the preliminary stages of design.


Carbonatic Flysch lithologies Slake Durability Test Index of weathering Weathering profile Weathering rate 


Certains études indiquent que la plupart des instabilités de pente qui affectent les masses rocheuses hétérogènes telles que des formations de Flysch sont liés au l’effritement différentielle des lithologies qui composent la pente. Par conséquent, la caractérisation du comportement devant de l’effritement de la matrice rocheuse c’est un aspect clé pour l’étude de ces types de pentes et de leurs processus d’instabilité associés. Le principal objectif de ce travail est la caractérisation des propriétés de résistance aux intempéries des différentes lithologies qui affleurent dans la zone d’étude afin de connaître leur comportement devant l’effritement après l’excavation des pentes. A cet effet, ont été étudiés 151 échantillons obtenus à partir de strates de 11 pentes différentes, âgés de 5 à 40 ans. Ces lithologies ont été identifiées et caractérisées mécaniquement en utilisant des critères de terrain et en laboratoire. En plus, le comportement devant le slaking de la matrice rocheuse a été déterminé, en proposant une classification basée sur le premier et le cinquième cycle de l’assai cyclique de durabilité (Id1 et Id5 respectivement) et un index défini dans le présent travail, appelé Index of Weathering (IW5). Toute l’information compilée à partir de laboratoire et de terrain a été utilisé pour caractériser les différents comportements devant l’effritement des roches étudiées. En outre, les propriétés du slaking basées sur des tests de laboratoire ont été liées avec la résistance aux intempéries des roches in situ (c’est-à-dire, le profil d’effritement, modèles et longueur et taux d’effritement). La relation indiquée entre le laboratoire, les données de terrain et les observations in situ fournit un outil très utile pour évaluer l’évolution devant l’effritement espéré des pentes depuis leur excavation aux étapes préliminaires d’avant-projets.

Mots clés 

Lithologies carbonatées du Flysch Essai cyclique de durabilité Index d’effritement Profil d’effritement Taux d’effritement 



The authors acknowledge Dr. David Benavente (Department of Earth Sciences of the University of Alicante) for his support in the analysis of the diffractograms. This work was partially funded by the University of Alicante under the projects vigrob-157 uausti10–18, uausti11–11 and gre09–40 and by the Generalitat Valenciana within project gv/2011/044.

Supplementary material

10064_2014_632_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (2.6 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 2701 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer - Verlag GmbH & Co KG Berlin-Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Ingeniería CivilEscuela Politécnica Superior, Universidad de AlicanteAlicanteSpain

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