openPR Logo
Press release

Calculating landslides & slope failures

05-09-2016 02:54 PM CET | Science & Education

Press release from: FWF - Austrian Science Fund

/ PR Agency: PR&D
The threat of slope instability will be easier to predict in future. Scientists working on an Austrian Science Fund project have succeeded in developing a new numerical model for this purpose. The model enables the calculation of important physical factors relating to slope stability for the first time. Due to the complexity of the factors involved, this was not possible up to now.

Landslides are always good for a surprise – because despite intensive studies and research, their occurrence is still unpredictable. Researchers working on a project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF have succeeded for the first time in numerically simulating the fundamental physical processes that have a strong influence on slope stability and incorporating them into simulations and model calculations. This represents a milestone in the reliable prediction of landslides and slope failures.

The Power of water
The physical processes, which Principal Investigator Wei Wu and his team from the Institute of Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, have examined, are closely related to the water content of the soil on a slope. Wu explains: "With rising saturation, the water pressure in the soil pores gives rise to reduced soil strength." However, despite the fact that all the alarm bells ring when there is an increase in water pressure in a slope accompanied by reduced stability, it was not possible to calculate or model these processes up to now. "These are highly complex processes which are made even more complex by the soil fabric. Soil is a three-phase system consisting of soil particles, air and water and the basis for the calculation of each phase is different. The models available up to now were unable to take account of this complexity", notes Wu.

From California to Vienna
Thanks to his international network, Wu was able to obtain a special computer code which was developed at Stanford University in California. This code enabled the team, along with its project partner Ronaldo I. Borja from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, to make the key criteria behind the complex processes in the soil accessible in the form of a numerical simulation for the first time. To facilitate this, the code was further developed for its application to unsaturated porous soils. In this way, the scientists succeeded in calculating how spatially separate areas with different levels of water saturation can affect the emergence of localised failure in slopes.

Model validation
"The calculations were validated with comprehensive model tests", reports Wu. "These proved that our theoretical calculations provided a very accurate description of the actual processes at work here. Numerous different conditions were considered in the model validation. Precipitation intensity emerged as having a very important impact on slope stability", says Wu. "Many slope failures are actually triggered by rain", he adds. To carry out the model tests Wu's team availed of special centrifugal technology in a climate chamber. A miniature model of slope was created in the chamber and instrumented which enabled the testing of the actual subsurface conditions.

Model test
As Wu explains, the team gained comprehensive insights from these complex model tests: "We learned a lot about the mechanism that leads to the actual rupture in the slope structure. We succeeded in calculating the energy mobilised by the process and, based on this, the emergence and propagation of slip surfaces. These are areas, in which the soil strength is lower than in the surrounding areas." Another important finding of the study was that even minor changes in the water content can have a significant impact on the soil stability.

This model, which was developed as part of a project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, could help to identify potentially hazardous slopes in future and thus enable their more efficient monitoring. It can also be used in software for the reliable calculation of slope stability.

FWF Austrian Science Fund

The Austrian Science Fund (FWF) is Austria's central funding organization for basic research.

The purpose of the FWF is to support the ongoing development of Austrian science and basic research at a high international level. In this way, the FWF makes a significant contribution to cultural development, to the advancement of our knowledge-based society, and thus to the creation of value and wealth in Austria.

Scientific Contact:
Prof. Wei Wu
University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
Institute of Geotechnical Engineering
Feistmantelstraße 4
1180 Vienna, Austria
T +43 / 1 / 47654 - 5551

Austrian Science Fund FWF:
Marc Seumenicht
Haus der Forschung
Sensengasse 1
1090 Vienna, Austria
T +43 / 1 / 505 67 40 - 8111

Copy Editing & Distribution:
PR&D – Public Relations for Research & Education
Mariannengasse 8
1090 Vienna, Austria
T +43 / 1 / 505 70 44

This release was published on openPR.

Permanent link to this press release:

Please set a link in the press area of your homepage to this press release on openPR. openPR disclaims liability for any content contained in this release.

You can edit or delete your press release Calculating landslides & slope failures here

News-ID: 339766 • Views: 1060

More Releases from FWF - Austrian Science Fund

Exploring "emo-eating"
While fear and aggression tend to curb our appetite, sadness and frustration seem to stimulate it. A project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF looks into the connections between mood and overeating in healthy and bulimic individuals. We know how it feels to look forward to our favourite dish; we are familiar with the notions of comfort food and feeling butterflies in the stomach instead of hunger. In eating
Neurosciences: a stress test for men and women
Whilst it is true that women and men respond differently to stress, current neuroscientific research only partially confirms traditional gender stereotypes. Other factors heavily contribute to the stress response such as self-esteem, hormones and stress regulation, as has been demonstrated by a project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF. How people react to stress is subjective. Gender also plays a fundamental role. Scientific studies have shown that the stress
Researching the grammar of sign language
Like spoken language, sign language has a complex and differentiated structure. One just has to be able to discern and interpret it. With the support of the Austrian Science Fund FWF, a research team from Klagenfurt is working on the elements of a grammar of sign language. It is language that distinguishes Homo sapiens from animals. A complex system in which smaller units combine into larger units, into sentences, into statements.
Using mathematics to hunt for computer errors
Improving the security of computer software and hardware requires mathematical analytic methods. Thanks to research by a team of computer scientists led by Krishnendu Chatterjee in a project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, these methods will work significantly faster in the future. Security gap in application discovered, update urgently recommended. Alerts like that can confront us every week. Often, a comprehensive update that addresses teething troubles is already

All 5 Releases

More Releases for Austria

Austria Agriculture Market | Austria Agriculture Industry | Austria Agriculture …
The share of Austria agriculture within the Austrian economy declined steady afterward World War II, agriculture continues to represent a very important part of the economy attributable to its social and political significance. The Chamber of Agriculture rests on an equal level with the chambers of commerce and labour, though its members manufactures solely a fraction of the GDP that industrial and sale able labours produce. Though little, the agricultural sector is
Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband 2018-2023 Austria Market Survey Industry Key Play … "Austria - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses" report has been added to its Research Database. Scope of the Report: Austria's telcos looking forward to major spectrum auctions for 5G. Austria's telecom market is dominated by the incumbent Telekom Austria and the cableco UPC Austria, though there has been greater competitive pressure in the fixed-line broadband and mobile sectors in recent years. In common with operators elsewhere in Europe,
Austria Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband Market Professional Survey with Industry … “Austria - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses” report has been added to its Research Database. Scope of the Report: Austria’s telcos looking forward to major spectrum auctions for 5G. Austria’s telecom market is dominated by the incumbent Telekom Austria and the cableco UPC Austria, though there has been greater competitive pressure in the fixed-line broadband and mobile sectors in recent years. In common with operators elsewhere in Europe,
Agrochemicals Market in Austria
ReportsWorldwide has announced the addition of a new report title Austria: Agrochemicals: Market Intelligence (2016-2021) to its growing collection of premium market research reports. The report “Austria: Agrochemicals: Market Intelligence (2016-2021)” provides market intelligence on the different market segments, based on type, active ingredient, formulation, crop, and pest. Market size and forecast (2016-2021) has been provided in terms of both, value (000 USD) and volume (000 KG) in the report. A
Nazi psychology in Austria
The history of academic psychology after the "Anschluss", the annexation of Austria by Germany in 1938, and its role as a discipline used in National Socialist policies is being examined systematically for the first time in a research project supported by the Austrian Science Fund FWF. "It is a sad fact”, says psychologist Gerhard Benetka from the Sigmund Freud University Vienna "that applied psychology flourished during the National Socialist era
Creative Austria meets creative Russia
Euroforum: communicatin ready for the next lap Vienna. On 22nd of October 2009 the advertising association Vienna invites again to the annual Euroforum: communication event, platform for European communication, guaranteeing an interesting mix of “connecting businesses and communications”. The Event takes place in Studio 44, Vienna. Focus point Russia (Moscow, St. Petersburg and Sotschi) The main goal of the Euroforum is to promote and establish business relations and synergies between