Rock-Avalanche Size and Runout – Implications for Landslide Dams

  • T.R. Davies
  • M.J. McSaveney
Part of the Lecture Notes in Earth Sciences book series (LNEARTH, volume 133)


A fundamental quantity affecting landslide impact is its size: we ask how size might be known in advance of failure, and explore conditions under which there might be useful answers. The regional answer comes from probabilistic landslide hazard analysis. We approach the local problem by discussing forms that answers might have taken in some historical New Zealand landslides. Edifice shape seems more important than specific, weakest defects in determining release surfaces, and so the probability-density distribution of potential failure sizes at a site is estimable from topography, general knowledge of rock-mass characteristics, and the probability-density distributions of potential triggers. To understand and predict how far a landslide of known size will travel, and what its internal structure will be, we discuss dynamic grain fragmentation and its role in rock-avalanche and block-slide motion. We then examine how fragmentation affects the stability of rock-avalanche and block-slide dams.


Rock Mass Unconfined Compressive Strength Rock Avalanche Release Surface Large Landslide 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was supported by the New Zealand Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, through the Public Good Science Fund. We are grateful to our colleagues who attended the NATO Advanced Research Workshops in Celano in 2002 and in Bishkek in 2004 for their stimulating feedback on some of the ideas expressed here.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geological SciencesUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand
  2. 2.Institute of Geological and Nuclear SciencesLower HuttNew Zealand

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