Tectonic constraints on a deep-seated rock slide in weathered crystalline rocks

Borrelli, Luigi; Gullà, Giovanni, 2017, Tectonic constraints on a deep-seated rock slide in weathered crystalline rocks, Geomorphology (Amst.) 290 (2017): 288–316. doi_10.1016/j.geomorph.2017.04.025,
URL: http://www.cnr.it/prodotto/i/374066

Deep-seated rock slides (DSRSs), recognised as one of the most important mass wasting processes worldwide, involve large areas and cause several consequences in terms of environmental and economic damage; they result from a complex of controlling features and processes. DSRSs are common in Calabria (southern Italy) where the complex geo-structural setting plays a key role in controlling the geometry of the failure surface and its development. This paper describes an integrated multi-disciplinary approach to investigate a DSRS in Palaeozoic high-grade metamorphic rocks of the Sila Massif; it focuses on the definition of the internal structure and the predisposing factors of the Serra di Buda landslide near the town of Acri, which is a paradigm for numerous landslides in this area. An integrated interdisciplinary study based on geological, structural, and geomorphological investigations--including field observations of weathering grade of rocks, minero-petrographic characterisations, geotechnical investigations and, in particular, fifteen years of displacement monitoring--is presented. Stereoscopic analysis of aerial photographs and field observations indicate that the Serra di Buda landslide consists of two distinct compounded bodies_ (i) an older and dormant body (~ 7 ha) and (ii) a more recent and active body (~ 13 ha) that overlies the previous one. The active landslide shows movement linked to a deep-seated translational rock slide (block slide); the velocity scale ranges from slow (1.6 m/year during paroxysmal stages) to extremely slow (< 16 mm/year during stable creep stages). The geological structures and rock weathering have played a key role in the landslide's initiation and further development. Steep slope angles, rugged topography, river deepening and erosion at the toe of the slope are also responsible for the formation of this landslide. In particular, the landslide shows a strongly tectonic constraint_ the flanks are bounded by high-angle faults, and the main basal failure surface developed inside an E-W southward-dipping thrust fault zone. The entire active rock mass (total volume of approximately 6 Mm3) slid at one time on a failure surface that dipped < 27°, and the maximum depth, as determined by inclinometer measurements, was approximately 58 m. Petrographic and mineralogical analyses suggest that the rocks in the thrust zones, where the failure surfaces develop, are highly affected by weathering processes that significantly reduce the rock strength and facilitate the extensive failure of the Serra di Buda landslide. Finally, the landslide's internal structure, according to geotechnical investigations and displacement monitoring, is proposed. The proposed approach and the obtained results can be generalised to typify other deep landslides in similar geological settings.

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