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Unraveling the Dynamics of a Creeping Slope in Northwestern Colombia: Hydrological Variables, and Geoelectrical and Seismic Signatures

1
Departamento de Geociencias y Medio Ambiente, Facultad de Minas, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Medellín 050034, Colombia
2
Departamento de Ciencias de la Tierra, Universidad EAFIT, Medellín 050022, Colombia
3
Sustainability Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast, Locked Bag 4, Maroochydore DC, QLD 4558, Australia
4
Mountain Societies Research Institute, University of Central Asia, Khorog 736000, Tajikistan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2018, 10(11), 1498; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10111498
Received: 14 September 2018 / Revised: 12 October 2018 / Accepted: 20 October 2018 / Published: 23 October 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Landslide Hydrology)
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Abstract

Mass movements are quite common in the Northern Andes and constitute one of the major hazards in the region. In particular, along valley flanks where the city of Medellin (Colombia) is located, rainfall is the main trigger of these phenomena, but little is understood about how water in the soil and subsoil behaves. In this study, we show data from some basic soil hydrology measurements and conventional geophysical surveys within a ~4 ha experimental plot that is experiencing soil creep. The seasonally wet study site has an average slope gradient of 33%, and its surface geology consists of a series of older deposits of debris flows. Our measurements show a low surface runoff, which ranges from 4 to 11% of the rainfall; infiltration is 89–96% of the rainfall, and 15–33% corresponds to drainage water at shallow levels in the soil (20–50 cm); piezometric measurements reveal a mostly steady-state water table. About 14–54% of the rainfall becomes subsurface flow within the first ~1–2 m below the surface. Geoelectrical and seismic surveys suggest small temporal changes in the properties of materials shallower than 2 m, consistent with the steady-state water table and the permanent and high subsurface flow. These geophysical surveys also indicate the presence of a major discontinuity at ~4–6 m below the surface, which we interpret as the limit between different prior debris flows. View Full-Text
Keywords: runoff; water table; soil creep; subsurface flow; piezometers; geophysical surveys runoff; water table; soil creep; subsurface flow; piezometers; geophysical surveys
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Loaiza-Usuga, J.C.; Monsalve, G.; Pertuz-Paz, A.; Arce-Monsalve, L.; Sanín, M.; Ramírez-Hoyos, L.F.; Sidle, R.C. Unraveling the Dynamics of a Creeping Slope in Northwestern Colombia: Hydrological Variables, and Geoelectrical and Seismic Signatures. Water 2018, 10, 1498.

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