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Open AccessArticle

Empirical and Physically Based Thresholds for the Occurrence of Shallow Landslides in a Prone Area of Northern Italian Apennines

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Pavia, Via Ferrata 1, 27100 Pavia, Italy
Department of Chemistry, Life Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, University of Parma, Parco Area delle Scienze, 157/A, 43124 Parma, Italy
Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Bologna, Viale Fanin 44, 40127 Bologna, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(12), 2653;
Received: 20 November 2019 / Revised: 10 December 2019 / Accepted: 13 December 2019 / Published: 16 December 2019
Rainfall thresholds define the conditions leading to the triggering of shallow landslides over wide areas. They can be empirical, which exploit past rainfall data and landslide inventories, or physicallybased, which integrate slope physical–hydrological modeling and stability analyses. In this work, a comparison between these two types of thresholds was performed, using data acquired in Oltrepò Pavese (Northern Italian Apennines), to evaluate their reliability. Empirical thresholds were reconstructed based on rainfalls and landslides triggering events collected from 2000 to 2018. The same rainfall events were implemented in a physicallybased model of a representative testsite, considering different antecedent pore-water pressures, chosen according to the analysis of hydrological monitoring data. Thresholds validation was performed, using an external dataset (August 1992–August 1997). Soil hydrological conditions have a primary role on predisposing or preventing slope failures. In Oltrepò Pavese area, cold and wet months are the most susceptible periods, due to the permanence of saturated or close-to-saturation soil conditions. The lower the pore-water pressure is at the beginning of an event, the higher the amount of rain required to trigger shallow failures is. physicallybased thresholds provide a better reliability in discriminating the events which could or could not trigger slope failures than empirical thresholds. The latter provide a significant number of false positives, due to neglecting the antecedent soil hydrological conditions. These results represent a fundamental basis for the choice of the best thresholds to be implemented in a reliable earlywarning system. View Full-Text
Keywords: shallow landslides; rainfall; thresholds; physicallybased model; hydrological monitoring shallow landslides; rainfall; thresholds; physicallybased model; hydrological monitoring
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MDPI and ACS Style

Bordoni, M.; Corradini, B.; Lucchelli, L.; Valentino, R.; Bittelli, M.; Vivaldi, V.; Meisina, C. Empirical and Physically Based Thresholds for the Occurrence of Shallow Landslides in a Prone Area of Northern Italian Apennines. Water 2019, 11, 2653.

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