Modeling the hydrological and mechanical effect of roots on shallow landslides

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54 Citazioni (Scopus)


This study proposes a new methodology for estimating the additional shear strength (or cohesion) exerted by vegetation roots on slope stability analysis within a coupled hydrological-stability model. The mechanical root cohesion is estimated within a Fiber Bundle Model framework that allows for the evaluation of the root strength as a function of stress-strain relationships of populations of fibers. The use of such model requires the knowledge of the root architecture. A branching topology model based on Leonardo's rule is developed, providing an estimation of the amount of roots and the distribution of diameters with depth. The proposed methodology has been implemented into an existing distributed hydrological-stability model able to simulate the dynamics of factor of safety as a function of soil moisture dynamics. The model also accounts for the hydrological effects of vegetation, which reduces soil water content via root water uptake, thus increasing the stability. The entire methodology has been tested in a synthetic hillslope with two configurations of vegetation type, i.e., trees and shrubs, which have been compared to a configuration without vegetation. The vegetation has been characterized using roots data of two mediterranean plant species. The results demonstrate the capabilities of the topological model in accurately reproducing the observed root structure of the analyzed species. For the environmental setting modeled, the effects of root uptake might be more significant than the mechanical reinforcement; the additional resistance depends strictly on the vegetation root depth. Finally, for the simulated climatic environment, landslides are seasonal, in agreement with past observations.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)8590-8612
Numero di pagine23
RivistaWater Resources Research
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2016

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