The Use of Soil Moisture and Pore-Water Pressure Sensors for the Interpretation of Landslide Behavior in Small-Scale Physical Models

Sensors (Basel). 2022 Sep 27;22(19):7337. doi: 10.3390/s22197337.


This paper presents some of the results and experiences in monitoring the hydraulic response of downscaled slope models under simulated rainfall in 1 g. The downscaled slope model platform was developed as part of a four-year research project, "Physical modeling of landslide remediation constructions' behavior under static and seismic actions", and its main components are briefly described with the particular focus on the sensor network that allows monitoring changes in soil moisture and pore-water pressure (pwp). The technical characteristics of the sensors and the measurement methods used to provide the metrics are described in detail. Some data on the hydraulic and mechanical responses obtained from the conducted tests on slope models built from different soil types under different test conditions are presented and interpreted in the context of rainfall-induced landslides. The results show that the sensor network used is suitable for monitoring changes in the soil moisture and pwp in the model, both in terms of the transient rainfall infiltration through partially saturated soil and in terms of the rise in the water table and pwp build-up under fully saturated conditions. It is shown how simultaneous monitoring of soil moisture and pwp can be used to reconstruct stress paths that the monitored points undergo during different test phases. Finally, some peculiarities related to hydraulic hysteresis and surface erosion that were observed in some of tests are discussed, as well as possible difficulties in achieving and maintaining the targeted initial moisture distribution in slope models.

Keywords: hydraulic monitoring; landslides; physical modelling; pore-water pressure; rainfall infiltration; soil moisture; soil moisture sensors; tensiometers.