ESR6 Konstantin Melnikov

Research project description

Grain Scale Modelling of Triggering Mechanisms of Rainfall Induced Slope Failures

Fellow:                Konstantin Melnikov

Department:      Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (ETHZ)

Supervisor:        Prof. Hans Jürgen Herrmann

Rainfall induced slope failures are a common phenomenon in mountainous regions after long periods of rains. These failures might lead to creation of landslides which are together with debris flows highly dangerous for both people and infrastructure 

The goal of this research project is to model triggering mechanisms of rainfall induced slope failures at the grain scale. The triggering mechanisms will be investigated in a discrete model based on the contact dynamics approach of an initially unsaturated granular material that is infiltrated by water. In order to develop a realistic simulation of this process, capillary forces due to water bridges as well as contact forces between particles will be taken into account. It is planned to investigate the influence of the inhomogenity and structure of granular material on the triggering process. Further important features for the understanding of the triggering mechanisms are the influence of initial void ratio (density) and initial water content. The simulation should help to study effects like the loss of matric suction, crack formation and formation of compaction bands. 

For getting realistic results it is important to establish a connection to the macroscopic level at which landslides occur in practice. This connection is supported by collaboration with Caroline Chalak who is a MuMoLaDe fellow at the Institut Polytechnique de Grenoble.

   ESR6 Konstantin

Figure: Setup of a contact dynamics simulation of granular material. Spheres correspond to particles of different radius that is coded by color increasing from blue to red. The size of particles is reduced by factor of 0.7 to visualize interparticle capillary bridges.

ESR6 Konstantin Melnikov