Groundwater fluctuations during a debris flow event in western Norway - Triggered by rain and snowmelt
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonHydrology and Earth System Sciences. 2021, 25 (7), 4147-4158. 10.5194/hess-25-4147-2021
Pore pressure is crucial in triggering debris slides and flows. Here we present measurements of groundwater pore pressure and temperature recorded by a piezometer 1.6 m below the surface on a slope susceptible to debris flows in western Norway. One of the largest oscillations in data collected over 4 years coincided with a debris flow event on the slope that occurred during storm Hilde on 15–16 November 2013. More than 100 landslides were registered during the storm. Precipitation totaled about 80–100 mm in 24 h, locally up to 129 mm, and an additional trigger factor for the landslides was a rapid rise in air temperature that caused snowmelt. In the studied slope a fraction of the precipitation first fell as snow. On 15 November, the groundwater level in the hillslope rose by 10 cm/h and reached 44 cm below the surface. At the same time, air temperature rose from 0 ∘C to over 8 ∘C, and the groundwater temperature dropped by 1.5 ∘C. The debris flow probably occurred late in the evening of 15 November, when the groundwater level reached its peak. Measurements of the groundwater in the hillslope in the period 2010–2013 show that the event in 2013 was not exceptional. Storm Dagmar on 25–26 December 2011 caused a similar rise in groundwater level but did not trigger any failures. The data suggest that during heavy rainstorms the slope is in a critical state for a landslide to be triggered for a short time – about 4–5 h.