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Title: Rate-weakening friction characterizes both slow sliding and catastrophic failure of landslides

Abstract

Catastrophic landslides cause billions of dollars in damages and claim thousands of lives annually, whereas slow-moving landslides with negligible inertia dominate sediment transport on many weathered hillslopes. Surprisingly, both failure modes are displayed by nearby landslides (and individual landslides in different years) subjected to almost identical environmental conditions. Such observations have motivated the search for mechanisms that can cause slow-moving landslides to transition via runaway acceleration to catastrophic failure. A similarly diverse range of sliding behavior, including earthquakes and slow-slip events, occurs along tectonic faults. Our understanding of these phenomena has benefitted from mechanical treatments that rely upon key ingredients that are notably absent from previous landslide descriptions. Here, we describe landslide motion using a rate- and state-dependent frictional model that incorporates a nonlocal stress balance to account for the elastic response to gradients in slip. Our idealized, one-dimensional model reproduces both the displacement patterns observed in slow-moving landslides and the acceleration toward failure exhibited by catastrophic events. Catastrophic failure occurs only when the slip surface is characterized by rate-weakening friction and its lateral dimensions exceed a critical nucleation length h * that is shorter for higher effective stresses. However, landslides that are extensive enough to fall within this regime can nevertheless slide slowly for months or years before catastrophic failure. Our results suggest that the diversity of slip behavior observed during landslides can be described with a single model adapted from standard fault mechanics treatments.

Authors:
; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Univ. of Oregon, Eugene, OR (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1312045
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1469666
Grant/Contract Number:  
FE0013565
Resource Type:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Journal Volume: 113 Journal Issue: 37; Journal ID: ISSN 0027-8424
Publisher:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
58 GEOSCIENCES; landslides; slope failure; rate and state friction; pore-water pressure; effective stress

Citation Formats

Handwerger, Alexander L., Rempel, Alan W., Skarbek, Rob M., Roering, Joshua J., and Hilley, George E. Rate-weakening friction characterizes both slow sliding and catastrophic failure of landslides. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.1073/pnas.1607009113.
Handwerger, Alexander L., Rempel, Alan W., Skarbek, Rob M., Roering, Joshua J., & Hilley, George E. Rate-weakening friction characterizes both slow sliding and catastrophic failure of landslides. United States. doi:10.1073/pnas.1607009113.
Handwerger, Alexander L., Rempel, Alan W., Skarbek, Rob M., Roering, Joshua J., and Hilley, George E. Mon . "Rate-weakening friction characterizes both slow sliding and catastrophic failure of landslides". United States. doi:10.1073/pnas.1607009113.
@article{osti_1312045,
title = {Rate-weakening friction characterizes both slow sliding and catastrophic failure of landslides},
author = {Handwerger, Alexander L. and Rempel, Alan W. and Skarbek, Rob M. and Roering, Joshua J. and Hilley, George E.},
abstractNote = {Catastrophic landslides cause billions of dollars in damages and claim thousands of lives annually, whereas slow-moving landslides with negligible inertia dominate sediment transport on many weathered hillslopes. Surprisingly, both failure modes are displayed by nearby landslides (and individual landslides in different years) subjected to almost identical environmental conditions. Such observations have motivated the search for mechanisms that can cause slow-moving landslides to transition via runaway acceleration to catastrophic failure. A similarly diverse range of sliding behavior, including earthquakes and slow-slip events, occurs along tectonic faults. Our understanding of these phenomena has benefitted from mechanical treatments that rely upon key ingredients that are notably absent from previous landslide descriptions. Here, we describe landslide motion using a rate- and state-dependent frictional model that incorporates a nonlocal stress balance to account for the elastic response to gradients in slip. Our idealized, one-dimensional model reproduces both the displacement patterns observed in slow-moving landslides and the acceleration toward failure exhibited by catastrophic events. Catastrophic failure occurs only when the slip surface is characterized by rate-weakening friction and its lateral dimensions exceed a critical nucleation length h * that is shorter for higher effective stresses. However, landslides that are extensive enough to fall within this regime can nevertheless slide slowly for months or years before catastrophic failure. Our results suggest that the diversity of slip behavior observed during landslides can be described with a single model adapted from standard fault mechanics treatments.},
doi = {10.1073/pnas.1607009113},
journal = {Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America},
number = 37,
volume = 113,
place = {United States},
year = {2016},
month = {8}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
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DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1607009113

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