Reliability of water content estimation by profile probe and its effect on slope stability

Di Matteo L.; Pauselli C.; Valigi D.; Ercoli M.; Rossi M.; Guerra G.; Cambi C.; Ricco R.; Vinti G., 2017, Reliability of water content estimation by profile probe and its effect on slope stability, Landslides (Berl., Print) (2017): 1–8. doi_10.1007/s10346-017-0895-7,

Shallow landslide failures are distributed worldwide and cause economic losses and fatalities. A proper evaluation of the possible occurrence of shallow landslides requires reliable characterization of water content. Volumetric water content (?) is commonly estimated using dielectric sensors, which use manufacturers' calibration curves developed for specific soil types. In this study, we present the experimental results achieved during a laboratory calibration of a capacitance probe (PR2/6 probe), tested on two sandy soils widely outcropping in Central Italy. The proposed equations demonstrate a more reliable estimation of ? with respect to the generalized soil equation provided by the manufacturer, which overestimates ? by up to 10 percentage points. Such overestimation could affect the evaluation of suction stress in partially saturated shallow soils affecting the slope stability analysis. Although the use of ? from correct calibration equations provides less precautionary factor of safety values, a reliable evaluation of the soil moisture condition is fundamental when mapping and predicting the spatial and temporal occurrence of shallow landslides. The use of the PR2/6 probe with the appropriate soil calibration equations in early warning monitoring systems will provide a more reliable forecast, minimizing the number of false alarms.

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