Large reactivated landslides in weak rock masses: A case study from the Northern Apennines (Italy)

L. Borgatti, A. Corsini, M. Barbieri, G. Sartini, G. Truffelli, G. Caputo, C. Puglisi

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51 Citations (Scopus)


This case study paper is about a large rotational rock and earth slide-earth flow located in the Secchia River Valley, in the Northern Apennines of Italy, that has displayed multiple reactivation phases between 2002 and 2004. The main geological constraints of the mass movement are related to the overlap of flysch rock masses over clayey complexes that allows rock slides to take place in the source area. The disarrangement and weathering of rock masses following slope movements causes large amount of fine-grained debris to be accumulated on the slope and mobilised by earth sliding and flowing. Analysis of rainfall data at the onset of reactivation events has proved that they occurred after periods with cumulated values higher than the averages of the last 30 years. The quantification of the morphological modifications induced by these reactivations has been made possible by comparing pre- and post-event digital elevation models. Depletion and accumulation has been in the range of 30-m in different parts of the slope. In particular, an advancement of the landslide toe of more than 400 m, which caused a 30-m thick landslide tip to deposit, has been clearly seen. Monitoring data regarding subsurface movements and surface tension crack widening (tension cracks so large as to be properly described at trenches) has shown that sliding surfaces as deep as 43 m exist in the upper part of the landslide, while the accumulation lobe has moved by sliding and flowing over surfaces as deep as some 10 m. Velocities of cm/day have been recorded in the deep surfaces and in widening trenches of the source area, while the advancement of the accumulation lobe has been estimated as having velocities of up to 10 m/day. Groundwater in the landslide body has been observed at depths of 5-15 m in the upper areas, while it is estimated as being at the ground level in the toe. On this basis, it is concluded that the landslide still has a high potential for further development, both in the upper landslide zone and in the toe area.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115 - 124
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2006
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology

Cite this

Borgatti, L., Corsini, A., Barbieri, M., Sartini, G., Truffelli, G., Caputo, G., & Puglisi, C. (2006). Large reactivated landslides in weak rock masses: A case study from the Northern Apennines (Italy). Landslides, 3(2), 115 - 124.