Regional Rainfall Thresholds for Shallow and Deep-Seated Mass Movements Triggering in the South Eastern French Alps

  • Alexandre RemaîtreEmail author
  • Jean-Philippe Malet
Conference paper


The main objective of this work is to propose hydro-meteorological thresholds for the triggering of shallow (slides, debris/mud flows) and deep-seated mass movements within a vast area of the South-East French Alps (Queyras, Ubaye, Tinée) characterized by various rainfall patterns. For this purpose, we exploit a landslide catalogue (containing more than 600 events) for the period 1928–2014 describing the date (and sometimes the hours) of occurrence, the type of mass movement, the geographical location and the nearest meteorological station. Rainfall data are available for 36 stations. A statistical analysis of rainfall conditions associated to triggering of shallow mass movements at various time scales (yearly, monthly, daily and hourly) reveals that rainfall thresholds are spatially highly variable.


Triggering Rainfall patterns Rainfall thresholds 



This research was funded through the French ANR Project ‘SAMCO’, the European Project FP7 ‘SafeLand: Living with landslide risk in Europe’ (2009–2012) and through the European Project FP7 ERA-NET CIRCLE ‘Changing Risks’ project.


  1. Aleotti P (2004) A warning system for rainfall-induced shallow failures. Eng Geol 73:247–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brunetti MT, Peruccaci S, Rossi M, Luciani S, Valigi D, Guzzetti F (2010) Rainfall thresholds for the possible occurrence of landslides in Italy. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci 10:447–458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Caine N (1980) The rainfall intensity–duration control of shallow landslides and debris flows. Geogr Ann 62A(1–2):23–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cannon SH, Gartner JE, Wilson RC, Bowers JC, Laber JL (2008) Storm rainfall conditions for floods and debris flows from recently burned areas in southwestern Colorado and southern California. Geomorphology 96:250–269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Casadei M, Dietrich WE, Miller L (2003) Testing a model for predicting the timing and location of shallow landslide initiation in soil-mantled landscapes. Earth Surf Proc Land 28:925–950CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Corominas J (2000) Landslides and climate. In: Bromhead E, Dixon N, Ibsen ML (eds.) 8th International symposium on landslides, Cardiff, pp 1–33Google Scholar
  7. Corominas J, Moya J (1999) Reconstructing recent landslide activity in relation to rainfall in the Llobregat River basin, Eastern Pyrenees, Spain. Geomorphology 30:79–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cossart E, Braucher R, Fort M, Bourlès DL, Carcaillet J (2008) Slope instability in relation to glacial debuttressing in alpine areas (Upper Durance catchment, southeastern France): Evidence from field data and 10 Be cosmic ray exposure ages. Geomorphology 95(1–2):3–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Crosta GB, Frattini P (2003) Distributed modelling of shallow landslides triggered by intense rainfall. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci 3:81–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Crozier MJ (1986) Landslides: causes, consequences and environment. Croom Helm, LondonGoogle Scholar
  11. Crozier MJ (1999) Prediction of rainfall-triggered landslides: a test of the antecedent water status model. Earth Surf Proc Land 24:825–833CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cruden DM, Varnes DJ (1996) Landslide types and processes. In: Turner AK, Shuster RL (eds) Landslides: investigation and mitigation. Transportation research board special report no. 247, pp 36–75Google Scholar
  13. Flageollet J-C, Maquaire O, Martin B, Weber D (1999) Landslides and climatic conditions in the Barcelonnette and Vars basins (Southern French Alps, France). Geomorphology 30:65–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Floris M, Bozzano F (2008) Evaluation of landslide reactivation: a modified rainfall threshold model based on historical records on rainfall and landslides. Geomorphology 94:40–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Glade T, Crozier MJ, Smith P (2000) Applying probability determination to refine landslide-triggering rainfall thresholds using an empirical “antecedent daily rainfall model”. Pure Appl Geophys 157(6–8):1059–1079Google Scholar
  16. Godt JW, Baum RL, Chleborad AF (2006) Rainfall characteristics for shallow landsliding in Seattle, Washington. USA Earth Surf Proc Land 31:97–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Guzzetti F, Peruccaci S, Rossi M, Stark CP (2007) Rainfall thresholds for the initiation of landslides in central and southern Europe. Meteorol Atmos Phys 98:239–267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Guzzetti F, Peruccaci S, Rossi M, Stark CP (2008) The rainfall intensity-duration control of shallow landslides and debris flows: an update. Landslides 5(1):3–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hungr O, Evans SG, Bovis M, Hutchinson JN (2001) Review of the classification of landslides of the flow type. Environ Eng Geosci 7:221–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Iverson RM (2000) Landslide triggering by rain infiltration. Water Resour Res 36(7):1897–1910CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Li C, Ma T, Zhu X, Li W (2011) The power–law relationship between landslide occurrence and rainfall level. Geomorphology 130:221–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Maquaire O, Malet J-P, Remaître A, Locat J, Klotz S, Guillon J (2003) Instability conditions of marly hillslopes: towards landsliding and gullying? The case of the Barcelonnette Basin. South East France Eng Geol 70(1–2):109–130Google Scholar
  23. Remaître A, Malet J-P (2010) The effectiveness of torrent check dams to control channel instability: example of debris-flow events in clay shales. In: Garcia CC, Lenzi MA (eds) Check dams, morphological adjustments and erosion control in torrential streams. Nova Science Publishers Inc, New York, pp 211–237Google Scholar
  24. Remaître A, Malet J-P, Maquaire O (2011) Geomorphology and mechanics of debris flows with high entrainment rate: a case study in the South French Alps. C.R. Géosciences 343(11–12):777–794Google Scholar
  25. Turkington T, Remaître A, Ettema J, Hussin HY, van Westen C (2016) Assessing debris flow activity in a changing climate. Clim Change 137(1):293–305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Wieczorek GF, Glade T (2005) Climatic factors influencing occurrence of debris flows. In: Jakob M, Hungr O (eds) Debris flow hazard and related phenomena. Springer, Berlin, pp 325–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Zerathe S, Lebourg T, Braucher R, Bourlès D (2014) Mid-Holocene cluster of large-scale landslides revealed in the Southwestern Alps by 36Cl dating. Insight on an Alpine-scale landslide activity. Quat Sci Rev 90:106–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut de Physique du Globe de Strasbourg, CNRS UMR 7516Ecole et Observatoire Des Sciences de la Terre, Université de StrasbourgStrasbourgFrance

Personalised recommendations