Next Article in Journal
Integrated Geomorphological and Geospatial Analysis for Mapping Fluvial Landforms in Murge Basse Karst of Apulia (Southern Italy)
Previous Article in Journal
The Relationship between the Physicochemical Properties and Permeability of the Fluvisols and Eutric Cambisols in the Zagreb Aquifer, Croatia
Previous Article in Special Issue
Prediction of Muddy Floods Using High-Resolution Radar Precipitation Forecasts and Physically-Based Erosion Modeling in Agricultural Landscapes
Open AccessArticle

Wildfire Impacts on Slope Stability Triggering in Mountain Areas

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, 20133 Milano, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Geosciences 2019, 9(10), 417;
Received: 31 July 2019 / Revised: 20 September 2019 / Accepted: 23 September 2019 / Published: 25 September 2019
Landslides over steep slopes, floods along rivers plains and debris flows across valleys are hydrogeological phenomena typical for mountain regions. Such events are generally triggered by rainfall, which can have large variability in terms of both its intensity and volume. Furthermore, terrain predisposition and the presence of some disturbances, such as wildfires, can have an adverse effect on the potential risk. Modelling the complex interaction between these components is not a simple task and cannot always be carried out using instability thresholds that only take into account the characteristics of the rainfall events. In some particular cases, external factors can modify the existing delicate equilibrium on the basis of which stability thresholds are defined. In particular, events such as wildfires can cause the removal of vegetation coverage and the modification of the soil terrain properties. Therefore, wildfires can effectively reduce the infiltration capacity of the terrain and modify evapotranspiration. As a result, key factors for slope stability, such as the trend of the degree of saturation of the terrain, can be strongly modified. Thus, studying the role of wildfire effects on the terrain’s hydrological balance is fundamental to establish the critical conditions that can trigger potential slope failures (i.e., shallow landslides and possible subsequent debris flows). In this work, we investigate the consequences of wildfire on the stability of slopes through a hydrological model that takes into account the wildfire effects and compare the results to the current stability thresholds. Two case studies in the Ardenno (IT) and Ronco sopra Ascona (CH) municipalities were chosen for model testing. The aim of this paper is to propose a quantitative analysis of the two cases studies, taking into account the role of fire in the slope stability assessment. The results indicate how the post-fire circumstances strongly modify the ability of the terrain to absorb rainfall water. This effect results in a persistently drier terrain until a corner point is reached, after which the stability of the slope could be undermined by a rainfall event of negligible intensity. View Full-Text
Keywords: hydrogeological hazard; wildfire; rainfall; slope stability; debris flow; landslide hydrogeological hazard; wildfire; rainfall; slope stability; debris flow; landslide
Show Figures

Figure 1

MDPI and ACS Style

Abbate, A.; Longoni, L.; Ivanov, V.I.; Papini, M. Wildfire Impacts on Slope Stability Triggering in Mountain Areas. Geosciences 2019, 9, 417.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

Back to TopTop