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Acute Sensitivity of Landslide Rates to Initial Soil Porosity

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Science  20 Oct 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5491, pp. 513-516
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5491.513

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Abstract

Some landslides move imperceptibly downslope, whereas others accelerate catastrophically. Experimental landslides triggered by rising pore water pressure moved at sharply contrasting rates due to small differences in initial porosity. Wet sandy soil with porosity of about 0.5 contracted during slope failure, partially liquefied, and accelerated within 1 second to speeds over 1 meter per second. The same soil with porosity of about 0.4 dilated during failure and slipped episodically at rates averaging 0.002 meter per second. Repeated slip episodes were induced by gradually rising pore water pressure and were arrested by pore dilation and attendant pore pressure decline.

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