Quantitative estimation of landslide risk from rapid debris slides on natural slopes in the Nilgiri hills, India

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A quantitative procedure for estimating landslide risk to life and property is presented and applied in a mountainous area in the Nilgiri hills of southern India. Risk is estimated for elements at risk located in both initiation zones and run-out paths of potential landslides. Loss of life is expressed as individual risk and as societal risk using F-N curves, whereas the direct loss of properties is expressed in monetary terms.

An inventory of 1084 landslides was prepared from historical records available for the period between 1987 and 2009. A substantially complete inventory was obtained for landslides on cut slopes (1042 landslides), while for natural slopes information on only 42 landslides was available. Most landslides were shallow translational debris slides and debris flowslides triggered by rainfall. On natural slopes most landslides occurred as first-time failures.

For landslide hazard assessment the following information was derived: (1) landslides on natural slopes grouped into three landslide magnitude classes, based on landslide volumes, (2) the number of future landslides on natural slopes, obtained by establishing a relationship between the number of landslides on natural slopes and cut slopes for different return periods using a Gumbel distribution model, (3) landslide susceptible zones, obtained using a logistic regression model, and (4) distribution of landslides in the susceptible zones, obtained from the model fitting performance (success rate curve). The run-out distance of landslides was assessed empirically using landslide volumes, and the vulnerability of elements at risk was subjectively assessed based on limited historic incidents.

Direct specific risk was estimated individually for tea/coffee and horticulture plantations, transport infrastructures, buildings, and people both in initiation and run-out areas. Risks were calculated by considering the minimum, average, and maximum landslide volumes in each magnitude class and the corresponding minimum, average, and maximum run-out distances and vulnerability values, thus obtaining a range of risk values per return period. The results indicate that the total annual minimum, average, and maximum losses are about US$ 44 000, US$ 136 000 and US$ 268 000, respectively. The maximum risk to population varies from 2.1 × 10−1 for one or more lives lost to 6.0 × 10−2 yr−1 for 100 or more lives lost. The obtained results will provide a basis for planning risk reduction strategies in the Nilgiri area.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1723-1743
JournalNatural hazards and earth system sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2011




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