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TitleQuantifying the contribution of matric suction on changes in stability and displacement rate of a translational landslide in glaciolacustrine clay
AuthorSattler, K; Elwood, D; Hendry, M T; Huntley, DORCID logo; Holmes, J; Wilkinson, P B; Chambers, JORCID logo; Donohue, S; Meldrum, P I; Macciotta, R; Bobrowsky, P TORCID logo
SourceLandslides 2021 p. 1-15, Open Access logo Open Access
Alt SeriesNatural Resources Canada, Contribution Series 20200637
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf; html
ProvinceBritish Columbia
AreaThompson River; Ashcroft; Canada
Lat/Long WENS-121.3719 -121.1878 50.7756 50.5964
SubjectsScience and Technology; soils science; soil moisture; landslides; glaciolacustrine deposits; soils; soil properties; Thompson River Valley
Illustrationslocation maps; stratigraphic columns; diagrams; photographs; graphs
Released2021 01 06
AbstractA study of factors impacting landslide displacement rates was conducted on the Ripley Landslide within the Thompson River valley in British Columbia, Canada for the International Programme on Landslides’ project #202. Seasonal and multiyear changes in atmospheric factors cause cyclic fluctuation of matric suction in the vadose zone through changes to the in situ water content. The ingress of moisture is shown to contribute to multiyear and seasonal loss of stability causing increasing landslide displacement rates, often disregarded in slope stability calculations. However, the water content in the unsaturated zone is important, especially in semi-arid to arid climates where the water table is low and large portions of the slope are unsaturated. Additional tools for studying long-term variations in climate and seasonal changes in water content are presented. These tools are used to characterize historical climate and compare several factors that have resulted in changing landslide displacement rates and magnitude. Infiltration of precipitation and snowmelt directly contributes to matric suction loss in the head scarp and is exacerbated by the presence of tension cracks. While groundwater levels are often correlated to changing displacement rates, changes in matric suction can also influence the rates of displacement. Climatic trends over subsequent years alter the long-term soil water accumulation which impacts rates of landslide displacement. By accounting for additional strength, or potentially a loss in strength due to increasing water content, it is possible to develop a more complete understanding of the mechanisms of climate change which drive displacement rates in the translational, metastable earthen slides that dominate the Thompson River valley. These mechanisms can be applied to comparable river valleys around the world.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
This study looked at the Ripley Landslide in the Thompson River valley, British Columbia, Canada. The researchers aimed to understand what factors affect the speed at which landslides like these happen. They found that changes in the amount of moisture in the soil, caused by both seasonal and multiyear variations in weather, can make the landslide more unstable and lead to faster movement.
Traditionally, groundwater levels were thought to be the main factor in landslide speed, but this study shows that the moisture content in the unsaturated soil is equally important, especially in dry regions where the water table is low.
The study introduced new methods to analyze long-term climate patterns and seasonal soil moisture changes, allowing for a better understanding of how climate change affects landslide rates. This knowledge is crucial because it can help predict and manage landslides in areas like the Thompson River valley and similar regions around the world.
Understanding the impact of climate change on landslides is essential for safety and disaster prevention, making this research valuable for managing the risks associated with these natural events.

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