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Susceptibility Assessment of Shallow Landslides on Oahu, Hawaii, Under Extreme-Rainfall Events

Deb, S.K., and A.I. El-Kadi. Susceptibility assessment of shallow landslides on Oahu, Hawaii, under extreme-rainfall events. J. of Geomorphology, 108:-219-233. Online Copy: doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2009.01.009

The deterministic Stability INdex MAPping (SINMAP) model, which integrates a mechanistic infinite-slope stability model and a hydrological model, was applied to assess susceptibility of slopes in 32 shallow-landslide-prone watersheds of the eastern to southern areas of Oahu, Hawaii, USA. Input to the model includes a 10-m Digital Elevation Model (DEM), an inventory of storm-induced landslides that occurred from 1949 to 2006, and listings of soil-strength and hydrological parameters including transmissivity and steady-state recharge. The study area of ca. 384 square kilometers was divided into four calibration regions with different geotechnical and hydrological characteristics. All parameter values were separately calibrated using observed landslides as references. The study used a quasi-dynamic scenario of soil wetness resulting from extreme daily rainfall events with a return period of 50 years. The return period was based on almost-90-year-long (1919–2007) daily rainfall records from 26 raingauge stations in the study area. Output of the SINMAP model includes slope-stability-index-distribution maps, slope-versus-specific-catchment-area charts, and statistical summaries for each region.

The SINMAP model assessed susceptibility at the locations of all 226 observed shallow landslides and classified these susceptible areas as unstable. About 55% of the study area was predicted as highly unstable, highlighting a critical island problem. The SINMAP predictions were compared to an existing debris-flow-hazard map. Areas classified as unstable in the current study were classified as low-to-moderate and moderate-to-high debris-flow hazard risks by the prior mapping. The slope-stability maps provided by this study will aid in explaining the causes of known landslides, making emergency decisions, and, ultimately mitigating future landslide risks. The maps may be further improved by incorporating heterogeneous and anisotropic soil properties and spatial and temporal variation of rainfalls as well as by improving the accuracy of the DEM and the locations of shallow landslide initiation.

Slope-stability index distribution for a calibration region on Oahu