Could road constructions be more disastrous than an earthquake in terms of landsliding?

Hakan Tanyas*, Tolga Gorum, Dalia Kirschbaum, Luigi Lombardo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Working paperPreprintAcademic

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Roads can have a significant impact on the frequency of mass wasting events in mountainous areas. However, characterizing the extent and pervasiveness of landslides over time rarely been documented due to limitations in available data sources to consistently map such events. We monitored the evolution of a road network and assessed its effect on slope stability for a ten year window in Arhavi, Turkey. The main road construction projects run in the area are associated with a hydroelectric power plant as well as other road extension works and are clearly associated with the vast majority (90.1%) of mass movements in the area. We also notice that the overall number and size of the landslides are much larger than in the naturally-occurring comparison area. This marks a strong and negative effect of human activities on the natural course of earth surface processes. Our findings show that the damage generated by the road construction is compatible with the possible effect of a theoretical earthquake with a magnitude greater than M<sub>w</sub>=6.0. Overall, better co- and post-construction conditions should be ensured during and after road works to mitigate the risk to local communities. We also notice a significant variation in sediment transport as a result of road construction. As a result, our study fits in the big picture of Anthropocene related changes and specifically points out at problems in mountainous areas that could undoubtedly be better managed to reduce the risk to local communities.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages35
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2020




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