Calibration of Plasticity-Based Safety Factors for Rainfall-Induced Landslides

José J. Lizárraga, Giuseppe Buscarnera

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


The stability of unsaturated slopes is inherently linked to the prevailing hydrological and mechanical states. Their combination with unsaturated soil properties can lead to different slope failure mechanisms upon infiltration, thus having important implications on landslide hazard studies. This paper uses plasticity theories for unsaturated soils to formulate safety factors for shallow slopes. The objective is to define initiation conditions for frictional slips and liquefaction-induced flowslides that allow their simultaneous assessment as a function of the hydromechanical variables and initial conditions. The expressions are derived with reference to the kinematics of infinite slopes, as well as by detecting constitutive singularities of a suction-dependent constitutive model. The theory has been combined with a finite element solver able to simulate transient infiltration in unsaturated porous media, thus testing it against data from flume tests on collapsible soils. The simulations show that the model is capable of capturing the variation of the failure modes resulting from different combinations of initial suction and density. These results support the use of advanced mechanical theories to evaluate the susceptibility to rainfall-induced landslides, by encompassing frictional slips and flowslides within the same framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)370-379
Number of pages10
JournalGeotechnical Special Publication
Issue numberGSP 301
StatePublished - 2018
Event2nd Pan-American Conference on Unsaturated Soils: Fundamentals, PanAm-UNSAT 2017 - Dallas, United States
Duration: Nov 12 2017Nov 15 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology

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