Earthquake triggering of landslides in highly jointed rock masses: Reconstruction of the 1783 Scilla rock avalanche (Italy)

Francesca Bozzano, Luca Lenti, Salvatore Martino, Alfredo Montagna, Antonella Paciello

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The Scilla rock avalanche occurred on 6 February 1783 along the coast of the Calabria region (southern Italy), close to the Messina Strait. It was triggered by a mainshock of the "Terremoto delle Calabrie" seismic sequence, and it induced a tsunami wave responsible for more than 1500 casualties along the neighbouring Marina Grande beach. Based on subaerial and submarine surveys, a 5×106m3subaerial landslide was identified together with a 3×106m3submarine scar area, whereas block deposits are present in both the subaerial and submerged regions. A detailed geological reconstruction of the slope was obtained and a geomechanical characterisation of the metamorphic rocks involved in the landslide was performed. Based on this reconstruction, intense jointing conditions of the rock mass can be related to main fault zones parallel and normally oriented to the actual coastline. An engineering geology model of the landslide was devised according to an equivalent continuum approach to evaluate both stiffness and strength of the rock mass within the slope. A finite difference stress-strain numerical modelling of the Scilla landslide was performed under dynamic conditions to back-analyse the landslide trigger as well as local seismic amplifications.This modelling gave new insights into the physical interactions between seismic inputs and slopes, as it demonstrated the fundamental role played by i) the interaction between the seismic input and geological setting of unsheared rock slopes (i.e., without preexisting landslide masses), ii) cumulated strain effects due to seismic sequences, and iii) jointing conditions of the involved rock masses responsible for the seismic amplification of the landslide-prone volume, driving it toward failure conditions. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294 - 308
Number of pages15
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth-Surface Processes

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