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2D viscoplastic finite element modelling of slow landslides: the Portalet case study (Spain)


This paper proposes a hydro-geomechanical finite element model to reproduce the kinematic behaviour of large slow landslides. The interaction between solid skeleton and pore fluids is modelled with a time dependent up w formulation and a groundwater model that takes into account recorded daily rainfall intensity. A viscoplastic constitutive model based on Perzyna’s theory is applied to reproduce soil viscous behaviour and the delayed creep deformation. The proposed model is applied to Portalet landslide (Central Spanish Pyrenees). This is an active paleo-landslide that has been reactivated by the construction of a parking area at the toe of the slope. The stability analysis reveals that, after the constructive solutions were undertaken, the slope is in a limit equilibrium situation. Nevertheless, time-dependent analysis reproduces the nearly constant strain rate (secondary creep) and the acceleration/deceleration of the moving mass due to hydrological changes. Overall, the model reproduces a 2-m displacement in the past 8  years that coincides with in situ monitoring data. The proposed model is useful for short- and mid-term predictions of secondary creep. However, long-time predictions remain uncertain, stability depends strongly on the position of the water table depth and new failures during tertiary creep due to soil temporal microstructural degradation are difficult to calibrate.

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This work has been partially funded by the Terrafirma Global Monitoring for Environment and Security program from ESA, the project DO-SMS (SUDOE INTERREG IV B), the DORIS Project “Ground Deformation Risks Scenarios: an Advanced Assessment Service” (EU-FP7-SPACE-2009-1n 242212) and the Project SAFELAND “Living with landslide risk in Europe: Assessment, effects of global change and risk management strategies” (EU-FP7-ENV-2008-1 n 226479).

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Correspondence to J. A. Fernández-Merodo.

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Fernández-Merodo, J.A., García-Davalillo, J.C., Herrera, G. et al. 2D viscoplastic finite element modelling of slow landslides: the Portalet case study (Spain). Landslides 11, 29–42 (2014).

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  • Slow landslides
  • Viscoplasticity
  • Creep
  • Biot theory
  • Finite elements