Estimating additional root cohesion by exploiting a root topological model based on Leonardo’s Rule

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Root topological models are schematic representations of the root structure based on a definedtopology graph theory. In the context of hillslope stabilization modeling against rainfall-inducedshallow landslides, the root topological models may be used in combination with root strengthmodels assessment, such as the Root Bundle Model (RBM), to estimate the ultimate rootreinforcement. The effect of plant roots on slope stabilization is determined by the interactionbetween soil and the hydrological processes (within the root zone) and the biotechnicalcharacteristics of the root system, such as root length, root density, root tensile strength, rootarea, root diameter profile and the total number of roots. Describing adequately the rootarchitecture of a plant species is useful, for example, to evaluate how the root structure maychange in different soil and/or climatological conditions and, ultimately, as an example, to assessthe most suitable plant species to be adopted.This study exploits the potentiality of a root topological model based on Leonardo’s rule indescribing root architectures of (i) different species (and tree individual) at given growthconditions, (ii) same species at different environmental conditions, e.g., exposure to light, waterand nutrient availability. The former is supported by field campaign measurements from Tuscanyregion, the latter are reproduced starting from a reference case and imposing growthassumptions. Next, the information of the root system, in terms of root length, density, rootdiameter profile, total number of roots, are used to estimate, through a RBM approach, theadditional root tensile force, deriving it from the force-deformation theory of linear elasticity in arigorous framework aimed to derive the additional shear resistance from the Mohr-Coulomb’sfailure plane.The preliminary results demonstrated the capability of the root topological model of reproducingdifferent types of root system; additional data are required to further validate the model, withregard to the growth conditions simulation. Similarly, laboratory test of root strength would allowto quantify the improvement derived from the rigorous method adopted to estimate theadditional root strength
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEGU General Assembly 2020
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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