The rainfall intensity–duration control of shallow landslides and debris flows: an update


A global database of 2,626 rainfall events that have resulted in shallow landslides and debris flows was compiled through a thorough literature search. The rainfall and landslide information was used to update the dependency of the minimum level of rainfall duration and intensity likely to result in shallow landslides and debris flows established by Nel Caine in 1980. The rainfall intensity–duration (ID) values were plotted in logarithmic coordinates, and it was established that with increased rainfall duration, the minimum average intensity likely to trigger shallow slope failures decreases linearly, in the range of durations from 10 min to 35 days. The minimum ID for the possible initiation of shallow landslides and debris flows was determined. The threshold curve was obtained from the rainfall data using an objective statistical technique. To cope with differences in the intensity and duration of rainfall likely to result in shallow slope failures in different climatic regions, the rainfall information was normalized to the mean annual precipitation and the rainy-day normal. Climate information was obtained from the global climate dataset compiled by the Climate Research Unit of the East Anglia University. The obtained global ID thresholds are significantly lower than the threshold proposed by Caine (Geogr Ann A 62:23–27, 1980), and lower than other global thresholds proposed in the literature. The new global ID thresholds can be used in a worldwide operational landslide warning system based on global precipitation measurements where local and regional thresholds are not available..

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The research was supported by RISKAWARE, and the E2-C2 research projects were financed by the European Commission. We are grateful to the two reviewers and the guest editors for their constructive comments.

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Correspondence to Fausto Guzzetti.

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Guzzetti, F., Peruccacci, S., Rossi, M. et al. The rainfall intensity–duration control of shallow landslides and debris flows: an update. Landslides 5, 3–17 (2008).

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  • Rainfall
  • Threshold
  • Shallow landslides
  • Debris flow