Articles | Volume 16, issue 6
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 1561–1576, 2012
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 1561–1576, 2012

Research article 01 Jun 2012

Research article | 01 Jun 2012

A conceptual model of the hydrological influence of fissures on landslide activity

D. M. Krzeminska1, T. A. Bogaard1, Th. W. J. van Asch2, and L. P. H. van Beek2 D. M. Krzeminska et al.
  • 1Department of Water Management, Delft University of Technology, P.O. Box 5048, 2600 GA, Delft, The Netherlands
  • 2Department of Physical Geography, Utrecht University, UCEL, P.O. Box 80115, 3508 TC, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Abstract. Hydrological processes control the behaviour of many unstable slopes, and their importance for landslide activity is generally accepted. The presence of fissures influences the storage capacity of a soil and affects the infiltration processes of rainfall. The effectiveness of the fissure network depends upon fissure size, their spatial distribution, and connectivity. Moreover, fissure connectivity is a dynamic characteristic, depending on the degree of saturation of the medium.

This research aims to investigate the influence of the fissure network on hydrological responses of a landslide. Special attention is given to spatial and temporal variations in fissure connectivity, which makes fissures act both as preferential flow paths for deep infiltration (disconnected fissures) and as lateral groundwater drains (connected fissures). To this end, the hydrological processes that control the exchange of water between the fissure network and the matrix have been included in a spatially distributed hydrological and slope stability model. The ensuing feedbacks in landslide hydrology were explored by running the model with one year of meteorological forcing. The effect of dynamic fissure connectivity was evaluated by comparing simulations with static fissure patterns to simulations in which these patterns change as a function of soil saturation. The results highlight that fissure connectivity and fissure permeability control the water distribution within landslides. Making the fissure connectivity function of soil moisture results in composite behaviour spanning the above end members and introduces stronger seasonality of the hydrological responses.