Paleotopographic control of landslides in lacustrine deposits (Trièves plateau, French western Alps)

Grégory Bièvre, Ulrich Kniess, Denis Jongmans, Erwan Pathier, Stephane Schwartz, Thierry Villemin, Cees J. van Westen, Vilma Zumbo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Paleotopography in Quaternary sedimentary environments can be an important factor that controls landslide movement. This study investigates the relation between paleotopography and landslide activity in two adjacent landslides in glaciolacustrine sediments located in the Trièves area (French western Alps). Although both are in slopes underlain by the same lacustrine deposits, the Avignonet and Harmalière landslides exhibit major differences in morphology and displacement rates. Through a combination of geological mapping, airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data, aerial photographs, global positioning system (GPS), and seismic noise measurements, a three-dimensional impression was made of both landslides. The analysis reveals that the difference in kinematics between the two mass movements can be traced back to at least 50 years ago. The results show that the Harmalière slide, which failed catastrophically in 1981, is still much more active than the Avignonet landslide. The fear was that the Avignonet landslide might develop in a similar catastrophic manner, threatening a number of houses constructed on the landslide. A geophysical survey based on ambient noise measurements allowed us to map the base of the lacustrine clays, and the results indicate the presence of a N-S ridge of hard sediments (Jurassic bedrock and/or compact alluvial layers) on the eastern side of the Avignonet landslide. This ridge disappears when approaching the Harmalière landslide and makes a place to what can be interpreted as a NW-SE oriented paleovalley of the river Drac. We proposed that the ridge acts as a buttress that could mechanically prevent the Avignonet landslide from evolving as fast as the Harmalière. Furthermore, the NW-SE paleovalley located under the Harmalière landslide corresponds to the motion direction of the slide. Therefore, the different behaviour of the two landslides is partly controlled by the paleotopographic setting of Lake Trièves during the last Glacial Maximum extension. These results suggest a major influence of the bedrock paleotopography on the kinematics of the landslides.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-224
JournalGeomorphology
Volume125
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords

  • ITC-ISI-JOURNAL-ARTICLE
  • Clay
  • Landslides
  • Trièves plateau
  • French western Alps
  • LiDAR
  • GPS
  • Aerial photographs
  • Microtremors
  • Differential kinematics
  • Paleotographic control

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    Bièvre, G., Kniess, U., Jongmans, D., Pathier, E., Schwartz, S., Villemin, T., ... Zumbo, V. (2011). Paleotopographic control of landslides in lacustrine deposits (Trièves plateau, French western Alps). Geomorphology, 125(1), 214-224. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2010.09.018