Assessing the risk of slope failure to highway infrastructure using automated time-lapse electrical resistivity tomography monitoring

Whiteley, Jim; Inauen, Cornelia; Wilkinson, Paul; Meldrum, Philip; Swift, Russell; Kuras, Oliver; Chambers, Jonathan. 2023 Assessing the risk of slope failure to highway infrastructure using automated time-lapse electrical resistivity tomography monitoring. Transportation Geotechnics, 43, 101129.

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Electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) monitoring provides time-lapse images of the subsurface. These images can be used to assess spatiotemporal variation in moisture content, which is a key driver of slope failure, making ERT monitoring an effective tool to evaluate precursory conditions of failure. This work presents the results of ERT monitoring on a slope above a major highway located on the border between England and Wales. During highway construction in the 1960s the slope was subject to several large landslide events which resulted in the re-design of the carriageway and installation of engineered mitigation measures. A section of the slope known as the ‘partially slipped area’ exhibited partial displacement during this time but did not progress to full slope failure, and therefore presents an ongoing risk to the highway, even though it does not experience ongoing displacement. An ERT monitoring system was installed across this area to monitor subsurface variations in moisture content. The results show a complex pattern of subsurface moisture dynamics within the partially slipped area when compared to the adjacent area of stable slope. This is most likely a result of the uneven and hummocky terrain in the partially slipped area and its effects on rainfall infiltration, storage and drainage, combined with the displacement-induced jointing present in the underlying sandstone units. The ERT results are used to assess the volume of unstable ground, placing the volume at the upper end of estimates from previous studies. Furthermore, analysis of the ERT dataset for surface displacements shows no movement at the site, which is confirmed by analysis of differential LiDAR plots and ground motion data derived from InSAR. This study demonstrates the application of ERT monitoring on a low activity, high risk slope, highlighting the need to understand subsurface processes at the slope-scale to inform long-term slope management.

Item Type: Publication - Article
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ISSN: 22143912
Date made live: 11 Dec 2023 12:14 +0 (UTC)

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