Improved rainfall threshold for landslides in data sparse and diverse geomorphic milieu: a cluster analysis based approach

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Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


Rainfall-triggered landslides are the most common type of mass movement seen along the tropical belt due to the prevalence of monsoons. These landslides can be forecasted by understanding the spatial and temporal rainfall distribution patterns, and subsequent generation of rainfall threshold (RT). However, deriving a regional RT in a geologically, geographically and physiographically diverse milieu is a formidable task. The data on spatial and intra-seasonal variability of monsoons can be widely dispersed in such diversified terrains. Clustering analysis provides a promising approach to handle such widely dispersed data. This study intends to develop a methodology using 2-stage clustering process to create RT in such terrains by using daily rainfall versus antecedent rainfall and rainfall versus antecedent rainfall versus soil depth. Sixteen rainfall-induced landslides, located in different terrains in the Western Ghats of India, were subjected to this analysis. Majority of the landslides were modeled, and different RTs were derived for different conditions. The landslides belong to four different classes, viz., landslides occurring at steep slopes; those occurring at knickpoints of highland and midland; in the plateau region and others characterized by a thin veneer of soil. Out of 16 landslides subjected to RT, this method was able to model 13 landslides with a success rate of 81.25%, which is a fair figure.

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Natural Hazards