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Practical considerations for using petrophysics and geoelectrical methods on clay rich landslides

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Article number107506
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/05/2024
<mark>Journal</mark>Engineering Geology
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date18/04/24
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Understanding the geological and hydrological conditions present within an unstable slope is crucial for assessing the likelihood of failure. Recently, geoelectrical characterization and monitoring of landslides has become increasingly prevalent in this context, due to the spatial sensitivity of electrical methods to critical hydro-mechanical parameters. We explore a situational relationship between resistivity and matric potential (or negative pore pressure), which is a key parameter in estimating the resistance to shear in geological materials, and gravimetric moisture content (GMC). We have chosen a well-characterized active landslide instrumented with geoelectrical monitoring technology, the Hollin Hill Landslide Observatory, situated in Lias rocks in the southern Howardian Hills, United Kingdom. We report on petrophysical relationships between porosity, GMC, electrical resistivity, and matric potential. We trial the application of these petrophysical relationships to inverted resistivity images. Ground model development is achieved through a mixture of clustering resistivity distributions and analysis of surface movements. Our findings show the shrink swell properties of clay result in a variable porosity, which is problematic for applying classic petrophysical relationships documented in the literature. Moreover, directly translating resistivity distributions into matric potential has additional challenges. Nonetheless, volumetric imaging of resistivity suggest that low shear strengths are concentrated downslope of a rotational backscarp. We infer that an accumulation of moisture drives the development of a slip surface at depth, which subsequently manifests in failure at the ground surface. We conclude that the time-lapse resistivity images alone could not be used to infer the pore pressure conditions present within the slope without development of the petrophysical relationships shown here. Therefore, we suggest that the results have practical implications for landslide monitoring with geophysical methods. © 2024 The Author(s)