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Slip monitoring of a dip-slope and runout simulation by the discrete element method: a case study at the Huafan University campus in northern Taiwan

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Slope failure is a widely observed phenomenon in the mountainous areas in Taiwan due to rainy climatic and fragile geological conditions. Landslides easily occur after intense rainfall, especially from typhoons, and, accordingly, cause a great loss of human life and property. At the northern end of the Western Foothill belt in northern Taiwan, Huafan University is founded on a dip-slope about 20° toward the southwest composed of early Miocene alternations of sandstone and shale. Data from continuous monitoring using inclinometers and groundwater gauges reveal that 6–10 mm/month of slope creeping occurs, and a potential sliding surface is then detected about 10–40 m beneath the slope surface. To understand the potential runout process of the dip-slope failure at the campus, particle flow code 3D models based on a discrete element method are applied in this study. Results of the simulation reveal a critical value of the friction coefficient to be 0.13 and that more than 90% of the campus buildings will slide down in 100 s when the friction coefficient is reduced to half the critical value. The weakening of the shear zone due to the rise of groundwater during rainstorms is assumed to be the main factor. Some suggestions for preventing landslide disasters are to construct catchpits to drain runoff and lower the groundwater table and to install a sufficient number of ground anchors and retaining walls to stabilize the slope.

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We would like to thank colleagues at the Institute of Earth Sciences, Academia Sinica, and Department of Geosciences, National Taiwan University, for technical help and valuable comments on this research. We would also like to thank Prof. Ruey-Juin Rau at the Department of Earth Sciences, National Cheng-Kung University, for providing the GPS devices and technical support for the future work in the study area. This study is supported by the Taiwan Ministry of Science and Technology funding MOST 105-2811-M-001-057 and MOST 105-2116-M-001-019.

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Correspondence to Chia-Han Tseng.

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Tseng, CH., Chan, YC., Jeng, CJ. et al. Slip monitoring of a dip-slope and runout simulation by the discrete element method: a case study at the Huafan University campus in northern Taiwan. Nat Hazards 89, 1205–1225 (2017).

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