In the context of rainfall-induced landslides involving pyroclastic soils, the present work analyzes the influence of cover thickness on slope stability conditions. To this aim, the slope failure that occurred in Nocera Inferiore (4th March 2005) is selected as a reference test case, providing the actual weather forcing history that preceded the event, the hydraulic characterization of the soil involved, and the lowermost boundary condition (variously fractured calcareous bedrock underlying the cover). By maintaining unchanged soil hydraulic properties, the relationship between domain thickness, initial soil suction distribution, and slope instability induced by critical rainfall is investigated by numerical analyses. These refer to a rigid unsaturated domain subject to one dimensional flow conditions under the effects of incoming (precipitation) and outcoming (evaporation) fluxes applied at the uppermost boundary. The main outcomes indicate that critical event duration increases significantly with increasing the domain thickness. This relationship is strongly influenced by initial suction distribution. A linear relationship results for soil suction that is assumed to be constant at the beginning of the critical event. However, this relationship is quadratic if, by simulating the actual antecedent meteorological conditions, suction at the beginning of the critical event is the main function of the domain thickness. Additional numerical analyses were carried out to characterize the influence of a different lowermost boundary condition. Outcomes indicate that, for the same thickness, critical duration is substantially longer if the cover contact is with the same material as that of the cover.
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