Journal cover Journal topic
Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 9, 2027-2038, 2009
© Author(s) 2009. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
04 Dec 2009
Identification of active release planes using ground-based differential InSAR at the Randa rock slope instability, Switzerland
V. Gischig1, S. Loew1, A. Kos1, J. R. Moore1, H. Raetzo2, and F. Lemy1,* 1Geological Institute, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zürich, Switzerland
2Federal Office for the Environment (FEON), Bern, Switzerland
*now at: Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC), Brussels, Belgium
Abstract. Five ground-based differential interferometric synthetic aperture radar (GB-DInSAR) surveys were conducted between 2005 and 2007 at the rock slope instability at Randa, Switzerland. Resultant displacement maps revealed, for the first time, the presence of an active basal rupture zone and a lateral release surface daylighting on the exposed 1991 failure scarp. Structures correlated with the boundaries of interferometric displacement domains were confirmed using a helicopter-based LiDAR DTM and oblique aerial photography. Former investigations at the site failed to conclusively detect these active release surfaces essential for kinematic and hazard analysis of the instability, although their existence had been hypothesized. The determination of the basal and lateral release planes also allowed a more accurate estimate of the currently unstable volume of 5.7±1.5 million m3. The displacement patterns reveal that two different kinematic behaviors dominate the instability, i.e. toppling above 2200 m and translational failure below. In the toppling part of the instability the areas with the highest GB-DInSAR displacements correspond to areas of enhanced micro-seismic activity. The observation of only few strongly active discontinuities daylighting on the 1991 failure surface points to a rather uniform movement in the lower portion of the instability, while most of the slip occurs along the basal rupture plane. Comparison of GB-DInSAR displacements with mapped discontinuities revealed correlations between displacement patterns and active structures, although spatial offsets occur as a result of the effective resolution of GB-DInSAR. Similarly, comparisons with measurements from total station surveys generally showed good agreement. Discrepancies arose in several cases due to local movement of blocks, the size of which could not be resolved using GB-DInSAR.

Citation: Gischig, V., Loew, S., Kos, A., Moore, J. R., Raetzo, H., and Lemy, F.: Identification of active release planes using ground-based differential InSAR at the Randa rock slope instability, Switzerland, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 9, 2027-2038,, 2009.
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