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Open image in new windowCombining Terrestrial and Waterborne Geophysical Surveys to Investigate the Internal Composition and Structure of a Very Slow-Moving Landslide Near Ashcroft, British Columbia, Canada

  • David Huntley
  • Peter Bobrowsky
  • Melvyn Best
Conference paper

Abstract

A vital section of Canada’s national railway transportation corridor traverses a 7 km-long section of unstable terrain in the Thompson River valley, British Columbia. Landslides in this region have adversely impacted vital national railway infrastructure and operations, the environment, cultural heritage features, communities, public safety and economy since the late 19th Century. To help manage the potential risks associated with railway operations across this active slide zone, field investigations and monitoring of a very slow-moving Ripley Landslide are being undertaken by a consortium of research partners from government, academia and industry. Knowledge of the internal composition and structure of the landslide as interpreted through surficial geology mapping and geophysical surveys provide contextual baseline data for interpreting monitoring results; in addition to understanding mass-wasting processes in the Thompson River transportation corridor. Bathymetry, electrical resistivity tomography, frequency-domain electromagnetic terrain conductivity, ground penetrating radar, seismic refraction, multi-spectral surface wave analyses, and borehole logging of natural gamma, conductivity and magnetic susceptibility all suggest a moderately high relief bedrock sub-surface overlain by a >20 m thick package of clay, silt, till diamicton, gravel containing groundwater. Planar physical sub-surface features revealed in geophysical profiles and logs include tabular bedding and terrain unit contacts. Field observations and geophysical profiles also show curvilinear-rectilinear features interpreted as sub-horizontal translational failure planes in clay-rich beds beneath the rail ballast and lock-block retaining wall at depths between 5 and 15 m below the surface of the main landslide body. The landslide toe extends under the Thompson River where clay-rich sediments are confined to a >20 m deep bedrock basin. The upper clay beds are armoured from erosion by a lag deposit of modern fluvial boulders except along the west river bank where a deep trough has been carved by strong currents. High waterborne conductivity levels indicate discharge of groundwater through the boulder lag. Fluvial incision of the submerged toe slope at the south end of the landslide is observed <50 m west of where critical railway infrastructure is at risk. Integrating data from surficial geology mapping and an array of geophysical techniques provided significantly more information than any one method on its own.

Keywords

Railway infrastructure Landslide Surficial geology mapping Geophysical surveys Electrical resistivity tomography Fixed frequency electromagnetic terrain conductivity Ground penetrating radar Seismic refraction Multi-spectral surface wave analysis Borehole conductivity Natural gamma Magnetic susceptibility 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We wish to thank Neil Parry, Megan Caston, Cassandra Budd and Gordon Brasnett (Tetra Tech EBA Inc., Edmonton, Alberta) for their geophysical services in 2013–2014; Paul Bauman, Landon Woods and Kimberly Hume (Advisian, Worley Parsons Group, Calgary, Alberta) in 2014–2015; and Cliff Candy, Caitlin Gugins and Heather Ainsworth (Frontier Geosciences Inc., North Vancouver, British Columbia) in 2015. Over the years, the project has benefited from management by Carmel Lowe, Adrienne Jones, Philip Hill (GSC Sidney, British Columbia), Andrée Blais-Stevens (GSC Ottawa); and Sharon Philpott and Merrina Zhang (Transport Canada, Ottawa, Ontario). Coordination of the Railway Ground Hazard Research Program was managed by Cindy Hick (HPB Association Management, Ottawa, Ontario). The following colleagues contributed on site and in the office, and ensured researchers operated in safety: Wendy Sladen and Baolin Wang (GSC Ottawa, Ontario), Lionel Jackson (GSC Vancouver, British Columbia), Erin Dlabola (GSC Sidney), Laura Weise (GSC International Intern, University of Potsdam, Germany) and Karolin Döringer (GSC International Intern, University of Vienna, Austria); Zhang Qing, Zhang Xiaofei and Lv Zhonghu (Centre for Hydrogeology and Environmental Geology, China Geological Survey, Baoding, China); Hengxing Lan (Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China); Michael Hendry, Derek Martin, Renato Macciotta, Matthew Schafer, Gael Le Meil, Jeffrey Journault and Kristen Tappenden (University of Alberta, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Edmonton, Alberta); Chris Bunce, Gary Maximiuk, Roy Olsen and Matt Rhoades (Canadian Pacific Railway); Tom Edwards, Jennifer Kutchner and Mark McKay (Canadian National Railway); and Ian Chadwick (ERD Consulting Ltd., Kamloops, British Columbia).

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geological Survey of CanadaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Geological Survey of CanadaSidneyCanada
  3. 3.BEMEX Consulting InternationalVictoriaCanada

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