EGU General Assembly 2022
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Identification of hydrological monitoring variables for improvement of shallow landslides prediction in pyroclastic slopes of Campania

Daniel C. Roman Quintero, Carlo Giudicianni, Pasquale Marino, Giovanni Santonastaso, and Roberto Greco
Daniel C. Roman Quintero et al.
  • Università degli Studi della Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli", Department of Engineering, Italy (

Large areas of Campania (southern Italy) are characterized by steep slopes covered with shallow deposits of loose pyroclastic materials, laying upon bedrocks with different characteristics (i.e., limestones, dolomites, volcanic tuff). The pyroclastic covers, usually in unsaturated conditions, are frequently affected by rainfall-induced shallow landslides, which cause heavy damage to property and infrastructures and sometimes casualties. Owing to the brittle behavior of the involved soils, hardly exhibiting any deformation before failure, the occurrence of such landslides is not easily predictable, so that operational early warning systems for rainfall-induced landslides (LEWS) usually rely only on empirical thresholds based on precipitation information (i.e., intensity and duration of triggering rainfall event). Anyway, the reliability of landslide prediction would benefit from the inclusion of hydrological information about the condition of the slope cover before the onset of the triggering rainfall (e.g., Marino et al., 2020a).

Three years of continuous field monitoring carried out at the slope of Cervinara, located around 40 km north-east of the city of Naples, where a destructive flowslide occurred in December 1999, have provided insight of the hydrological processes controlling the water balance of the pyroclastic deposits, laying upon a densely fractured limestone bedrock, where a temporary perched aquifer develops during the rainy season (Marino et al., 2020b). This knowledge allowed setting up a physically based model capable of identifying the seasonality of the predisposing conditions leading to slope failure (Greco et al., 2018; Marino et al., 2021). Aiming at identifying the hydrological processes mostly affecting landslide triggering, the model is coupled with a stochastic rainfall generator (i.e., the Neyman-Scott rectangular pulse model), previously calibrated based on 20 years hourly rainfall data, obtaining a 1000 years long synthetic series of the slope cover response to precipitations (in terms of soil suction, water content, perched aquifer water level, and leakage through the soil-bedrock interface). The obtained synthetic dataset of rainfall and hydrological variables have been analyzed with machine-learning techniques, so to identify the most effective combination of variables for landslide predictions.

The analysis of the synthetic data allows identifying the most suitable variables to be monitored, for assessing the hydrologic conditions predisposing the slopes to failure. In fact, the obtained results are confirmed by the analysis of the available field monitoring data, indicating that coupling rainfall measurements with field and remote hydrological monitoring significantly improves landslide prediction.


Greco R, Marino P, Santonastaso GF, Damiano E (2018). Interaction between perched epikarst aquifer and unsaturated soil cover in the initiation of shallow landslides in pyroclastic soils. Water 10:948.

Marino P, Peres DJ, Cancelliere A, Greco R, Bogaard TA (2020a). Soil moisture information can improve shallow landslide forecasting using the hydrometeorological threshold approach. Landslides 17(9): 2041-2054.

Marino P, Comegna L, Damiano E, Olivares L, Greco R (2020b). Monitoring the Hydrological Balance of a Landslide-Prone Slope Covered by Pyroclastic Deposits over Limestone Fractured Bedrock. Water 12(12): 3309.

Marino P, Santonastaso GF, Fan X, Greco R (2021). Prediction of shallow landslides in pyroclastic-covered slopes by coupled modeling of unsaturated and saturated groundwater flow. Landslides 18(1): 31-41.

How to cite: Roman Quintero, D. C., Giudicianni, C., Marino, P., Santonastaso, G., and Greco, R.: Identification of hydrological monitoring variables for improvement of shallow landslides prediction in pyroclastic slopes of Campania, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-8547,, 2022.

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