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Slider-Block Friction Model for Landslides: Application to Vaiont and La Clapiere Landslides

Abstract : Accelerating displacements preceding some catastrophic landslides have been found empirically to follow a time-to-failure power law, corresponding to a finite-time singularity of the velocity $v \\sim 1/(t_c-t)$ [{\\it Voight}, 1988]. Here, we provide a physical basis for this phenomenological law based on a slider-block model using a state and velocity dependent friction law established in the laboratory and used to model earthquake friction. This physical model accounts for and generalizes Voight\'s observation: depending on the ratio $B/A$ of two parameters of the rate and state friction law and on the initial frictional state of the sliding surfaces characterized by a reduced parameter $x_i$, four possible regimes are found. Two regimes can account for an acceleration of the displacement. We use the slider-block friction model to analyze quantitatively the displacement and velocity data preceding two landslides, Vaiont and La Clapi\ère. The Vaiont landslide was the catastrophic culmination of an accelerated slope velocity. La Clapi\ère landslide was characterized by a peak of slope acceleration that followed decades of ongoing accelerating displacements, succeeded by a restabilizing phase. Our inversion of the slider-block model on these data sets shows good fits and suggest to classify the Vaiont (respectively La Clapi\ère) landslide as belonging to the velocity weakening unstable (respectively strengthening stable) sliding regime.
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A. Helmstetter, D. Sornette, J. -R. Grasso, Jørgen Vitting Andersen, S. Gluzman, et al.. Slider-Block Friction Model for Landslides: Application to Vaiont and La Clapiere Landslides. Journal of Geophysical Research, American Geophysical Union, 2004, 109, pp.B02409. ⟨10.1029/2002JB002160⟩. ⟨hal-00009442⟩

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