MPM simulation of a landslide in sensitive clays

  • Pugliese, Luigi (University of Calabria)
  • Parise, Andrea (University of Calabria)
  • Troncone, Antonello (University of Calabria)

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Landslides in sensitive clays are usually characterized by very high velocity and extremely long run-out distance. Such phenomena have obtained the attention of the geotechnical community since the pioneering studies published by Skempton and Northey [1] and Bjerrum and Landva [2] after some remarkable events that took place in Norway. However, the lack of appropriate methods of analysis has represented one of the principal impediments to the progress of knowledge about the kinematics of these natural disasters. In the present study, the Material Point Method (MPM) is employed to analyze the entire deformation mechanism of a well-documented landslide involving sensitive clays, which took place at Saint-Jude (Québec, Canada) in 2010. Indeed, a detailed description of the failure mechanism and an appropriate geotechnical characterization of the involved materials are available with referring to this landslide (Locat et al. [3]). To evaluate the accuracy of the simulation, the profile of the slope detected after the landslide and the displacement magnitude of some benchmark points are compared to those provided by the numerical analysis. The obtained results corroborate the effectiveness of MPM in properly forecasting the evolution of the failure surface within the slope and analyzing the run-out of the landslide under consideration. Specifically, the failure mechanism provided by the numerical simulation well resembles the actual one, documented by Locat et al. [3], although no constraint was preventively introduced to the shape and position of the failure surface. In addition, the final profile of the landslide body obtained from the simulation is in satisfactory accord with the measured one. These results demonstrate that MPM is an appealing tool for successfully predicting both the run-out and the failure mechanism of those landslides that involve very sensitive clays, requiring also a limited number of conventional geotechnical parameters as input data.