May 23, 2017

Coupled hydrogeophysical and geomechanical modelling of slope stability for improved early warning of landslides impacting natural and engineered infrastructure slopes

Coupled hydrogeophysical and geomechanical modelling of slope stability for improved early warning of landslides impacting natural and engineered infrastructure slopes

There is a growing interest in linking hydrogeological and geomechanical models to improve understanding of hydrological processes triggering landslides, but progress has been limited by an inability to provide high spatial and temporal resolution input data on the physical properties of the subsurface (e.g. strength, materials, composition) and changes associated with hydraulic processes (e.g. pore pressure, moisture content). It is our contention that major recent advances in geophysical and geotechnical monitoring can now provide timely information to update coupled hydro-geomechanical models – thereby enabling near-real-time estimates of slope factor of safety to aid forecasting of landslide events at the slope scale.

The aim of this work is therefore, for the first time, to develop an integrated approach to continuously update slope stability models in near-real-time, and to demonstrate this on actively failing slopes. This will be achieved by integrating the delivery of information derived from geophysical, geotechnical and meteorological monitoring with hydro-geomechanical models. The objective will be to develop an approach enabling data-driven assessments of hydrological threshold conditions that can lead to slope failure in engineered and natural slopes – for use anywhere in the world where such hazards are present. Crucially, it would provide infrastructure owners and managers with a powerful new decision support tool for assessing and managing the condition of unstable slopes associated with transportation, flood defence and utilities networks – thereby improving the performance of critical infrastructure.

The successful candidate will have access to a network of fully instrumented field observatories on operational infrastructures assets, and will have the opportunity to work closely with industrial partners. In addition, the student will have the opportunity to collaborate with international partners in landslide prone areas of Austria, India and Italy. Specialist training will be provided in the areas of groundwater and slope stability modelling, landslide hazard assessment and geophysical monitoring.

Applicants should have strong numerical abilities and hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Earth Science, Physics, Engineering, Environmental Science, Natural Sciences.

For further details please contact Dr Jonathan Chambers (jecha@bgs.ac.uk) or Prof Andy Binley (a.binley@lancaster.ac.uk).