The threat of slope instability will be easier to predict in future. Scientists working on an Austrian Science Fund project have succeeded in developing a new numerical model for this purpose. The model enables the calculation of important physical factors relating to slope stability for the first time. Due to the complexity of the factors involved, this was not possible up to now.
Landslides are always good for a surprise because despite intensive studies and research, their occurrence is still unpredictable. Researchers working on a project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF have succeeded for the first time in numerically simulating the fundamental physical processes that have a strong influence on slope stability and incorporating them into simulations and model calculations. This represents a milestone in the reliable prediction of landslides and slope failures.
The physical processes, which Principal Investigator Wei Wu and his team from the Institute of Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, have examined, are closely related to the water content of the soil on a slope. Wu explains: “With rising saturation, the water pressure in the soil pores gives rise to reduced soil strength.” However, despite the fact that all the alarm bells ring when there is an increase in water pressure in a slope accompanied by reduced stability, it was not possible to calculate or model these processes up to now. “These are highly complex processes which are made even more complex by the soil fabric. Soil is a three-phase system consisting of soil particles, air and water and the basis for the calculation of each phase is different. The models available up to now were unable to take account of this complexity”, notes Wu.
The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Austrian Science Fund (FWF).