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Up-scaling geomorphic hazards from alpine landslide dams


Large landslides can cause significant long-range and long-term, i.e. up-scaling, impacts in alpine river systems such as formation and failure of landslide dams, channel occlusions, diversions, massive debris deposition, channel instability, or avulsion. Landslide dams pose several hazards to both downstream and upstream communities due to potential adverse effects from catastrophic outburst flooding and debris flow, valley-floor inundation, or excessive aggradation from landslide-derived sediment slugs. Convent ional landslide hazard assessments häva so far neglected these off-site impacts, which in many cases may cause more damage than the direct physical impact of the slope failure itself.

The proposed project addresses these shortcomings and aims to:
(a) compile a world-wide inventory on landslide dams in alpine regions spanning a wide range of environmental boundary conditions;
(b) analyse key geomorphometric and morphodynamic data to quantify the total (= compound) hazard from landslide dams; and
(c) formulate a predictive model of alpine catchment response and sensitivity to disturbance from large catastrophic landslides and episodes of rainfall- or earthquake-triggered land sliding alike.

The key methodology will consist of geomorphometric analysis of a GIS-based landslide-dam inventory compiled from existing national or regional data sets, scientific literature, technical reports, university theses, historical accounts, air photo and satellite imagery, and digital elevation data. This will be complemented by sediment budget studies of selected sites to integrate the morphodynamic history spanning formation, failure, or obliteration of landslide dams. It will further allow quantification and ranking of geomorphic off-site impacts and its integration into assessments of total hazard from landslide dams.

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