Understanding the mechanics of large landslides


  • Doug Stead Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada
  • Erik Eberhardt University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada


landslide mechanisms, brittle fracture, damage, rock bridges, kinematics, remote sensing, discrete fracture networks, numerical modelling, distinct element voronoi, lattice spring


Our understanding of the mechanics of large landslides has improved considerably over the last decade with the development of new, innovative data collection methods, in conjunction with efforts to acquire unique data sets through detailed monitoring of several large rock slopes and the integration of these with increasingly sophisticated computer modelling techniques. In this paper the authors examine these recent developments in the context of three major issues that are considered fundamental to improved landslide characterization. Firstly we consider the role of damage mechanisms in large landslides, including what is meant by damage processes, the types of damage and the controls on damage distribution within the rock slope. Secondly we discuss the role of kinematics in the mechanics of large landslides considering the complex interactions that exist between the influence of scale, release surfaces and confinement, failure mechanisms, persistence and rock bridges, and groundwater pressures. Finally we discuss important advances in the modelling of large landslides and how this contributes to an improved mechanistic understanding of their spatial and temporal evolution. In particular, consistent with our discussion of damage in large landslides, we emphasise the developments of methods of modelling brittle fracture on rock slope damage.




How to Cite

Stead, D., & Eberhardt, E. (2013). Understanding the mechanics of large landslides. Italian Journal of Engineering Geology and Environment, 85–112. Retrieved from https://rosa.uniroma1.it/rosa02/engineering_geology_environment/article/view/1211