Rock Mass Characterization Coupled with Seismic Noise Measurements to Analyze the Unstable Cliff Slope of the Selmun Promontory (Malta)

Roberto Iannucci, Salvatore Martino, Antonella Paciello, Sebastiano D'Amico

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

3 Citations (Scopus)


In the Mediterranean area, cliff slopes represent widespread high-risk landforms as they are highly frequented touristic places often interested by landslide processes. Malta represents a significant case study as several cliffs located all around the island are involved in instability processes, as evidenced by wide block-size talus distributed all along the coast line. These diffused instabilities are related to the predisponding geological setting of Malta Island, i.e. the over-position of grained limestone on plastic clay deposits, that induces lateral spreading phenomena associated to falls and topples of different-size rock blocks and is responsible for a typical landscape with stable plateau of stiff rocks bordered by unstable cliff slopes. The ruins of GLatin small letter h with strokeajn adid Tower, the first of the thirteen watchtowers built in 1658 by the Gran Master Martin de Redin, stand out in the Selmun area. Currently the safety of this important heritage site, already damaged by an earthquake on October 12th 1856, is threaten by a progressive moving of the landslide process towards the stable plateau area. During autumn 2015, a field-campaign was realized to characterize the jointed rock mass. A detailed engineering-geological survey was carried out to reconstruct the geological setting and to define the mechanical properties of the rock mass. Based on the surveyed joint spatial distribution, 58 single-station noise measurements were deployed to cover both the unstable zone and the stable area. The obtained 1-hour records were analyzed in the frequency domain for associating vibrational evidences to different instability levels, i.e. deriving the presence of already isolated blocks by the local seismic response. The here presented results can be a useful contribute to begin to asses defense strategies for the Selmun Promontory, in the frame of managing the landslide risk in the study area and preserving the local historical heritage.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes
EventISRM European Rock Mechanics Symposium, EUROCK 2017 - Ostrava, Czech Republic
Duration: 1 Jan 2017 → …


ConferenceISRM European Rock Mechanics Symposium, EUROCK 2017
CountryCzech Republic
Period1/1/17 → …


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)

Cite this

Iannucci, R., Martino, S., Paciello, A., & D'Amico, S. (2017). Rock Mass Characterization Coupled with Seismic Noise Measurements to Analyze the Unstable Cliff Slope of the Selmun Promontory (Malta). Paper presented at ISRM European Rock Mechanics Symposium, EUROCK 2017, Ostrava, Czech Republic.