, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 165–172 | Cite as

Rainfall thresholds for the possible landslide occurrence in Sicily (Southern Italy) based on the automatic reconstruction of rainfall events

  • Massimo Melillo
  • Maria Teresa Brunetti
  • Silvia Peruccacci
  • Stefano Luigi Gariano
  • Fausto Guzzetti
Technical Note


Review of the literature on the reconstruction of the rainfall responsible for slope failures reveals that criteria for the identification of rainfall events are lacking or somewhat subjective. To overcome this problem, we developed an algorithm for the objective and reproducible reconstruction of rainfall events and of rainfall conditions responsible for landslides. The algorithm consists of three distinct modules for (i) the reconstruction of distinct rainfall events, in terms of duration (D, in h) and cumulated event rainfall (E, in mm), (ii) the identification of multiple ED rainfall conditions responsible for the documented landslides, and (iii) the definition of critical rainfall thresholds for possible landslide occurrences. The algorithm uses pre-defined parameters to account for different seasonal and climatic settings. We applied the algorithm in Sicily, southern Italy, using rainfall measurements obtained from a network of 169 rain gauges, and information on 229 rainfall-induced landslides occurred between July 2002 and December 2012. The algorithm identified 29,270 rainfall events and reconstructed 472 ED rainfall conditions as possible triggers of the observed landslides. The algorithm exploited the multiple rainfall conditions to define objective and reproducible empirical rainfall thresholds for the possible initiation of landslide in Sicily. The calculated thresholds may be implemented in an operational early warning system for shallow landslide forecasting.


Algorithm Landslide Rainfall Rainfall event Thresholds 



The work was supported by a grant of the Italian national Department for Civil Protection (DPC). MM was supported by DPC grant. We thank Provincial Fire Brigades in Sicily for providing the landslide information. We are grateful to the editor and the anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions that have helped us to improve the paper considerably.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Massimo Melillo
    • 1
  • Maria Teresa Brunetti
    • 1
  • Silvia Peruccacci
    • 1
  • Stefano Luigi Gariano
    • 1
    • 2
  • Fausto Guzzetti
    • 1
  1. 1.Istituto di Ricerca per la Protezione IdrogeologicaConsiglio Nazionale delle RicerchePerugiaItalia
  2. 2.Dipartimento Fisica e GeologiaUniversità degli Studi di PerugiaPerugiaItalia

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