CCES-TRAMM: Triggering of Rapid Mass Movements in Steep Terrain
TRAMM was a research project of the ETH Competence Centre of Environment and Sustainability (CCES) with the aim to better understand mechanisms of rapid mass movements. While the first phase (2006-10) contained numerous dedicated field and lab experiments, such as an artificially released landslide on a steep forest slope, the second phase (2012-15) focused on further developing numerical models to make them usable in future early warning systems.
Recent progress has been achieved in accounting for high-resolution precipitation information and hydro-geological impacts in landslide models, as well as in linking the triggering and runout of mass movements. In addition, our recent work has substantially advanced the understanding and use of acoustic emissions as precursors of landslides and snow avalanches. In a workshop with practitioners, we have discussed limitations of current early warning systems (EWS) and how EWS can be further developed for a safe and timely recognition of imminent hazards. TRAMM research was also presented to a broad audience at Scientifica 2013.
2006 - 2018
Mountain Hydrology and Mass Movements
- 26-28 Oct 2016: Participation at International workshop on regional early warning systems for rainfall-induced landslides, Oslo, Norway.
- 16 Aug 2016: Linfeng Fan (ETH Zürich) successfully defended his PhD thesis entitled"Catchment Scale Prediction of Rainfall-Induced Landslides and Subsequent Debris Flows on Heterogeneous Hillslopes".
- 11 Feb 2016: Special session on Early Warning Systems for Natural Hazards at the CCES conference 2016 at ETH Zürich.
- 31 March 2015: After 8.5 years the project TRAMM (Triggering of Rapid Mass Movements in Steep Terrain) has officially drawn to a close. However, our joint collaboration on that topic will continue in the frame of other projects.
- Okt/Nov 2014: The data and meta-data of the TRAMM field study Rufiberg are now available at http://www.swiss-experiment.ch/index.php/Rufiberg.
- 2-5 June, 2014: Test of fiber optic cables for measuring acoustic emissions in the large-scale laboratory of WSL. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bellaire, S.; Pielmeier, C.; Schneebeli, M.; Schweizer, J., 2009: Stability algorithm for snow micro-penetometer measurements. Journal of Glaciology, 55, 193: 805-813. doi: 10.3189/002214309790152582
Bennett, G.L.; Molnar, P.; McArdell, B.W.; Burlando, P., 2014: A probabilistic sediment cascade model of sediment transfer in the Illgraben. Water Resources Research, 50, 2: 1225-1244. doi: 10.1002/2013WR013806
Berger, C.; McArdell, B.W.; Fritschi, B.; Schlunegger, F., 2010: A novel method for measuring the timing of bed erosion during debris flows and floods. Water Resources Research, 46: W02502 (7 pp.). doi: 10.1029/2009WR007993
Berger, C.; McArdell, B.W.; Schlunegger, F., 2011: Sediment transfer patterns at the Illgraben catchment, Switzerland: Implications for the time scales of debris flow activities. Geomorphology, 125, 3: 421-432. doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2010.10.019
Berger, C.; McArdell, B.W.; Schlunegger, F., 2011: Direct measurement of channel erosion by debris flows, Illgraben, Switzerland. Journal of Geophysical Research F: Earth Surface, 116: F01002 (18 pp.). doi: 10.1029/2010JF001722
Brönnimann, C.; Stähli, M.; Schneider, P.; Seward, L.; Springman, S.M., 2013: Bedrock exfiltration as a triggering mechanism for shallow landslides. Water Resources Research, 49, 9: 5155-5167. doi: 10.1002/wrcr.20386
Caduff, R.; Kos, A.; Schlunegger, F.; McArdell, B.W.; Wiesmann, A., 2014: Terrestrial radar interferometric measurement of hillslope deformation and atmospheric disturbances in the Illgraben debris-flow catchment, Switzerland. IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters, 11, 2: 434-438. doi: 10.1109/LGRS.2013.2264564
Capelli, A.; Kapil, J.C.; Reiweger, I.; Or, D.; Schweizer, J., 2016: Speed and attenuation of acoustic waves in snow: laboratory experiments and modeling with Biot's theory. Cold Regions Science and Technology, 125: 1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.coldregions.2016.01.004
Faillettaz, J.; Or, D.; Reiweger, I., 2016: Codetection of acoustic emissions during failure of heterogeneous media: new perspectives for natural hazard early warning. Geophysical Research Letters, 43, 3: 1075-1083. doi: 10.1002/2015GL067435
Frank, F.; McArdell, B.W.; Huggel, C.; Vieli, A., 2015: The importance of entrainment and bulking on debris flow runout modeling: examples from the Swiss Alps. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 15, 11: 2569-2583. doi: 10.5194/nhess-15-2569-2015
Gaume, J.; Chambon, G.; Eckert, N.; Naaim, M.; Schweizer, J., 2015: Influence of weak layer heterogeneity and slab properties on slab tensile failure propensity and avalanche release area. Cryosphere, 9, 2: 795-804. doi: 10.5194/tc-9-795-2015
Gaume, J.; Van Herwijnen, A.; Chambon, G.; Birkeland, K.W.; Schweizer, J., 2015: Modeling of crack propagation in weak snowpack layers using the discrete element method. Cryosphere, 9, 5: 1915-1932. doi: 10.5194/tc-9-1915-2015
Gaume, J.; Schweizer, J.; Van Herwijnen, A.; Chambon, G.; Reuter, B.; Eckert, N.; Naaim, M., 2014: Evaluation of slope stability with respect to snowpack spatial variability. Journal of Geophysical Research F: Earth Surface, 119, 9: 1783-1799. doi: 10.1002/2014JF003193
Haque, U.; Blum, P.; Da Silva, P.F.; Andersen, P.; Pilz, J.; Chalov, S.R.; Malet, J.; Auflič, M.J.; Andres, N.; Poyiadji, E.; Lamas, P.C.; Zhang, W.; Peshevski, I.; Pétursson, H.G.; Kurt, T.; Dobrev, N.; García-Davalillo, J.C.; Halkia, M.; Ferri, S.; ... Keellings, D., 2016: Fatal landslides in Europe. Landslides, 13, 6: 1545-1554. doi: 10.1007/s10346-016-0689-3
Hürlimann, M.; McArdell, B.W.; Rickli, C., 2015: Field and laboratory analysis of the runout characteristics of hillslope debris flows in Switzerland. Geomorphology, 232: 20-32. doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2014.11.030
Kogelnig, A.; Hübl, J.; Suriñach, E.; Vilajosana, I.; McArdell, B.W., 2014: Infrasound produced by debris flow: propagation and frequency content evolution. Natural Hazards, 70, 3: 1713-1733. doi: 10.1007/s11069-011-9741-8
Mitterer, C.; Schweizer, J., 2013: Analysis of the snow-atmosphere energy balance during wet-snow instabilities and implications for avalanche prediction. Cryosphere, 7, 1: 205-216. doi: 10.5194/tc-7-205-2013
Mitterer, C.; Hirashima, H.; Schweizer, J., 2011: Wet-snow instabilities: comparison of measured and modelled liquid water content and snow stratigraphy. Annals of Glaciology, 52, 58: 201-208. doi: 10.3189/172756411797252077
Moos, C.; Bebi, P.; Graf, F.; Mattli, J.; Rickli, C.; Schwarz, M., 2016: How does forest structure affect root reinforcement and susceptibility to shallow landslides?. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 41, 7: 951-960. doi: 10.1002/esp.3887
Reiweger, I.; Schweizer, J., 2010: Failure of a layer of buried surface hoar. Geophysical Research Letters, 37: L24501 (5 pp.). doi: 10.1029/2010GL045433
Reiweger, I.; Schweizer, J., 2013: Weak layer fracture: facets and depth hoar. Cryosphere, 7, 5: 1447-1453. doi: 10.5194/tc-7-1447-2013
Reiweger, I.; Mayer, K.; Steiner, K.; Dual, J.; Schweizer, J., 2015: Measuring and localizing acoustic emission events in snow prior to fracture. Cold Regions Science and Technology, 110: 160-169. doi: 10.1016/j.coldregions.2014.12.002
Reuter, B.; Schweizer, J.; Van Herwijnen, A., 2015: A process-based approach to estimate point snow instability. Cryosphere, 9, 3: 837-847. doi: 10.5194/tc-9-837-2015
Schwarz, M.; Preti, F.; Giadrossich, F.; Lehmann, P.; Or, D., 2010: Quantifying the role of vegetation in slope stability: a case study in Tuscany (Italy). Ecological Engineering, 36, 3: 285-291. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoleng.2009.06.014
Schwarz, M.; Cohen, D.; Or, D., 2011: Pullout tests of root analogs and natural root bundles in soil: Experiments and modeling. Journal of Geophysical Research F: Earth Surface, 116: F02007 (14 pp.). doi: 10.1029/2010JF001753
Schwarz, M.; Philips, C.; Marden, M.; McIvor, I.R.; Douglas, G.B.; Watson, A., 2016: Modelling of root reinforcement and erosion control by 'Veronese' poplar on pastoral hill country in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science, 46, 1: 4 (17 pp.). doi: 10.1186/s40490-016-0060-4
Schweizer, J.; Jamieson, J.B., 2010: Snowpack tests for assessing snow-slope instability. Annals of Glaciology, 51, 54: 187-194. doi: 10.3189/172756410791386652
Schweizer, J., 2014: Editorial. On recent advances in applied snow and avalanche research. Cold Regions Science and Technology, 97: 57-59. doi: 10.1016/j.coldregions.2013.10.005
Stähli, M.; Sättele, M.; Huggel, C.; McArdell, B.W.; Lehmann, P.; Van Herwijnen, A.; Berne, A.; Schleiss, M.; Ferrari, A.; Kos, A.; Or, D.; Springman, S.M., 2015: Monitoring and prediction in early warning systems for rapid mass movements. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 15, 4: 905-917. doi: 10.5194/nhess-15-905-2015
Van Herwijnen, A.; Schweizer, J., 2011: Seismic sensor array for monitoring an avalanche start zone: design, deployment and preliminary results. Journal of Glaciology, 57, 202: 267-276. doi: 10.3189/002214311796405933
Van Herwijnen, A.; Heck, M.; Schweizer, J., 2016: Forecasting snow avalanches using avalanche activity data obtained through seismic monitoring. Cold Regions Science and Technology, 132: 68-80. doi: 10.1016/j.coldregions.2016.09.014
Akca, D., Gruen, A., Askarinejad, A., and Springman, S.M. 2011.
Photogrammetric monitoring of an artificially generated landslide. The
International Conference on GeoInformation For Disaster Management
(Gi4DM'11), Antalya, Turkey, May 3-8 (only on CD-ROM).
Askarinejad, A., Casini, F., Kienzler, P, Springman, S.M. 2010. Comparison of the in situ and laboratory water retention curves for a silty sand. 5th Intern. Conf. Unsaturated Soils UNSAT, 6-9 September, Barcelona, Spain. ISBN 978-0-415-60428-4, pp. 423-428.
Askarinejad, A. 2009. A method to locate the slip surface and measuring subsurface deformations in slopes. Proceedings of 4th International Young Geotechnical Engineers (4iYGEC), Alexandria, Egypt 2.-6.10.2009: 171-174.
Askarinejad, A., Akca, D. & Springman, S.M. 2018. Precursors of instability in a natural slope due to rainfall: a full-scale experiment. Landslides15, 1745–1759. doi.org/10.1007/s10346-018-0994-0
Ferrari A., Quan Luna B., Spikerman A., Travelletti J., Krzeminska D., Eichenberger J., van Asch T., van Beek R., Bogaard T., Malet JP and Laloui L. (2014). Techniques for the modelling of the process systems in slow and fast-moving landslides. in Mountain Risks: From Prediction to Management and Governance (ISBN: 978-94-007-6768-3), p. 83-129. Advances in Natural and Technological Hazards Research 34, Springer.
Hess, J., Rickli, C., McArdell, B., Stähli, M. 2014. Investigating and managing shallow landslides in Switzerland. In: K. Sassa et al (eds): Landslide Science for a Saver Geoenvironment, vol. 2, Springer Int. Publ. Switzerland, p. 805-808.
Nuth, M., and Laloui, L. 2008. Advanced hydro-mechanical coupling for unified constitutive modeling of unsaturated soils. Proc. of the First European Conf. on Unsaturated Soils, Durham, Taylor & Fracis Group, London, ISBN 978-0-415-47692-8.
Nuth, M. and Laloui, L. 2008. New achievements in modeling confined unsaturated soils within a unified constitutive framework. Proceedings of IWUS 08, Trento.
Stähli, M, and Bartelt, P. Von der Auslösung zur Massenbewegung. In: Hegg Ch., and Rhyner, J. Warnung bei aussergewöhnlichen Naturereignissen. Forum für Wissen. ISSN 1021-2256, p. 33-38.
Springman, S.M. 2011. Simple slope stability analyses while considering unsaturated behaviour/response. 12th Suklje Lecture, Zbornik Referaton, 12. Sukljetovi dnevi, Slovenian Geotechnical Society, Ajdovscina, Slovenia, 30.9.2011 (Univerza v. Ljubljani, Ljubljana): 5-35.
Andreini, N. 2012. Dam Break of Newtonian Fluids and Granular Suspensions : Internal Dynamics Measurements. Thèse Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne EPFL, no 5344, 88 pp.
Askarinejad, A. 2013 Subject: Failure mechanisms in unsaturated silty sand slopes triggered by rainfall. ETH-Diss No. 21423.
Berger, C. 2010. Debris flow entrainment and sediment transfer processes at the Illgraben catchment, Switzerland, Universität Bern, Institut für Geologie, 156 pp.
Brönnimann, C. 2011. Effect of groundwater on landslide triggering. PhD thesis, EPF Lausanne, Laboratory of Engineering and Environmental Geology, 224 pp.
Eichenberger, J. 2013. Geomechanical modelling of rainfall-induced landslides in partially saturated slopes. Thèse EPFL, n° 5580.
Michlmayr, G. 2013. Characteristics of force jumps and energy release during shearing of granular material – Acoustic emissions measurements and fiber-bundle models. Diss. ETH No. 20978, 127 pp.
Mitterer Ch. 2012. Formation of wet-snow avalanches. Diss. ETH No. 20662, 136 pp.
Nuth, M. 2009. Constitutive modelling of unsaturated soils with hydro-geomechanical couplings. EPF Lausanne.
Schwarz, M. 2010. Hydro-mechanical characterization of rooted hillslope failure: from field investigations to fiber bundle modeling. ETH Zürich.
Thielen, A. 2007. Einfluss der Bodensättigung auf die Stabilität von Hängen, ETH-Diss. Nr. 17303. e-collection.ethbib.ethz.ch/view/eth:29862
Von Rütte, J. 2013. Catchment scale hydromechanical model for landslide triggering – Representing localization and failure abruptness. Diss ETH No. 21160, 138 pp.
FAN-Agenda, December 2008. Special issue of TRAMM including 9 short articles. Fachleute Naturgefahren Schweiz, 23 pp.
Master thesis / Diploma thesis
Beck, A. 2011. Characterisation of a silty sand having a viscous pore fluid. Master thesis, ETH, Zurich, Switzerland.
Beck, T. 2014. Modeling rainfall-induced shallow landslides - From the classic spring block models to a more realistic representation of shallow landslide triggering, Master project, ETH Zurich
Chamoun, S. 2013: A geostatistical methodology for stochastic simulation of intermittent rainfall fields. Master thesis, EPFL-LTE.
Derksen, S. 2014. Flexible facing systems for slope stabilization, Master thesis in Environmental Engineering, ETH Zurich.
De Stefani, D., Leu, P., Mayencourt, P., Molinari, O., Secchi, B. 2012. Slano Blato landslide (Slovenia). Semester thesis, ETH Zurich, IGT, Switzerland.
Faulkner, N. 2016. Comparison of debris flow models. Master project, Soil and Terrestrial Environmental Physics, ETH Zürich, 22 pp.
Gilgen, M. 2008. Hydrological Simulation of a Hillslope Prone to Shallow Landslides. Diploma thesis. Department of Environmental Sciences, ETH Zürich; 76 pp.
Hilber, I. 2011. Soil structure characterisation of an artificially triggered landslide (Rüdlingen). Master thesis, ETH Zurich, Switzerland.
Kauer, S. 2010. Monitoring soil moisture dynamics on a hillslope prone to slide. Master thesis, University of Zurich, Department of Geography, 61 pp.
Leonarduzzi, E. 2014. Acoustic Emissions propagation and attenuation in different porous media and water contents, Master thesis in Environmental Engineering, Master thesis, ETH Zurich
Malecki, C. 2011. Finite element parametric study of landslide induced by rainfall. Master thesis, ETH Zurich, Switzerland.
Maries, G. 2011. Strength and geophysical profiling of a study site at Rufiberg, Canton Schwyz, CH. Master thesis, ETH Zurich, Switzerland.
Oggier, N. 2011. Modelling of debris flows using RAMMS at the Meretschibach, Agarn, Canton Wallis. Master thesis, ETH Zurich, Switzerland.
Schöbi, R. 2011. Debris Flow as a result of the Wenchuan Earthquake in China 12th May 2008 and subsequent rain events. Semester thesis, ETH Zurich, IGT, Switzerland.
Steinemann, S. 2013. Hillslope Debris-Flow Processes and the Influence of Geology and its Soil Products. Master thesis, ETH Zurich, Department of Earth Sciences, Switzerland.
Vögtli, M. 2013. Linking Acoustic Emissions with Avalanche Characteristics in the Sand Pile Model – Experiments and Lessons for Landslide Early Warning Schemes. Master thesis, ETH Zurich, Switzerland.
Synthesis report at the end of phase I (2010)
The most important results and conclusions of the first phase of the TRAMM project were summarized in a synthesis report. (Nov 2010, 50 pages)
White Paper on Early Warning Systems (2014)
Strategies towards design of next-generation Early Warning Systems (EWS) for rapid mass movements" (Feb. 2014).
Report on the Monte Verita conference in April 2010
In April 2010 an international conference on rapid mass movements was held at Monte Verita near Ascona. This report is a summary of the conference.
Internal reports related to the experimental field sites
Or, D., and many others. 2007. Characterization of the Wiler field site. Internal TRAMM report, 22 pages.
Tacher, L. and Locher D. 2008. Geological Characterization of the Buchberg field site (Ruedlingen). Internal TRAMM report, 4 pages.
Schwarz, M. and Rickli, Ch. 2008. Characterisation of the vegetation cover at the test site of Ruedlingen. Internal TRAMM report, 10 pages.
External staff members
The following people contributed to the TRAMM project:
|Lehmann||Peter|| PI|| ETH Zürich|
|Or||Dani||PI|| ETH Zürich|
|Berne||Alexis||PI|| EPF Lausanne|
|Lyesse||Laloui||PI|| EPF Lausanne|
|Springman||Sarah||PI|| ETH Zürich|
|Ancey|| Christophe || PI (2006-10)||EPF Lausanne|
Postdocs / Senior Scientists
|van Herwijnen||Alec||SAP||Research scientist|
|Tacher|| Laurent ||EPFL|| Senior Researcher (2006-10)|
List TRAMM PhD-students 2006-2010:
- Mathieu Nuth (EPF Lausanne, Geomechanical modelling)
- Catherine Berger (WSL, Debris flow erosion)
- Massimiliano Schwarz (ETH Zürich/WSL, Root reinforcement)
- Cornelia Brönnimann (EPF Lausanne, Hydrogeology of landslides)
- Gernot Michlmayr (ETH Zürich, Acoustic emissions)
- Jonas Von Rütte (ETH Zürich, Landslide modelling)
- John Eichenberger (EPF Lausanne, Geomechanical modelling)
- Amin Askarinejad (ETH Zürich, Geotechnical analysis of landslides)
- Christoph Mitterer (SLF, Wet snow avalanches)
- Nicolas Andreini (EPFL, Fluid dynamics)
Technicians and administrative staff
The following data sets compiled in the frame of the TRAMM project are available for interested users:
Ruedlingen (SH) - experimental landslide dataset
Abstract: A landslide testsite dataset related to pore water pressure perturbations on the stability of unsaturated silty sand slopes leading to the initiation and propagation of the shear deformations and eventual rapid mass movements. The experimental slope is 7.5 m wide by 35 m long, located in the Swiss lowlands on an east facing slope over-looking the river Rhine, at an altitude of ~ 350 m a.s.l. The average gradient was determined to be from 38° to 43° with a slightly concave surface. The underlying rock consists mainly of Molasse. Site instrumentation:Measurements of soil suction, groundwater level, soil volumetric water content, rain intensity and soil temperature were taken and combined with geophysical monitoring using Electrical Resistance Tomography (ERT) and investigations into subsurface flow by means of tracer experiments. Deformations were monitored during the experiment, both on the surface via photogrammetrical methods and within the soil mass, using a flexible probe equipped with strain gauges at different points and two axis inclinometers on the top and acoustic sensors. Instruments were installed mainly in three clusters at depths of 15, 30, 60, 90, 120, and 150 cm below the ground surface over the slope, including jet-fill tensiometers, TDRs, Decagon TDRs, piezometers, soil temperature sensors, deformation probes, earth pressure cells, acoustic sensors and rain gauges. Experiments: A sprinkling experiment was carried out in September 2008 to investigate the hydrological and mechanical response of the slope (Experiment 1), followed by a second one to trigger a landslide in March 2009 (Experiment 2).
Rufiberg (SZ) - experimental hydrological and hydrogeological dataset of a landslide prone hillslope
Abstract: Rufiberg is a pre-alpine meadow site in Switzerland where shallow landslides have been observed after past intense rain storms. In order to assess the triggering mechanisms of these landslides, a comprehensive investigation was conducted within the project TRAMM from Nov 2009 to Oct 2012. It included meteorological observations, soil moisture measurements, bedrock groundwater measurements. The Rufiberg is located at the NW side of the Gnipen to the north of the village Arth-Goldau in the Canton of Schwyz. The site is at an altitude between 1080 – 1180 m asl, is ENE oriented, and has an average slope of 30 -35°. The Subalpine Molasse in the region is inclined with 30 - 35° to SE. In the area of the field site, beds of conglomerate with several m of thickness alter with beds of sandstone and marlstone. The goal of the investigation was to understand the hydrology and hydrogeology of the slope with regard to shallow landslides. According to the local forester, during the heavy rainfall events in autumn 2005, groundwater under pressure was extruding at different locations of the slope. We are interested in the origin of this water and its effect on land sliding.