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Journal Articles Journal of Applied Geophysics Year : 2010

Geophysical investigation of the Sandalp rock avalanche deposits


In the study of rock avalanche phenomena, numerical modelling makes use of back analyses of the rock avalanche propagation for calibration of the modelling assumptions and parameters. The back analyses require knowledge of the run-out area boundaries and the thickness distribution of the deposit. Geophysical methods can be applied to retrieve the thickness distribution, but, due to strong heterogeneities and logistic problems they are seldom applied. The aim of this work is to assess the potential of integrated geophysical methods to recognise and characterise a deposit created by two rock avalanches which occurred in the Sandalp valley (Switzerland) in 1996. The topography of the site before and after the rock avalanche is known and can be used as a benchmark. Resistivity tomography, seismic P-wave tomography, and active and passive surface wave analysis have been applied on several profiles deployed both on the rock avalanche deposit and in the surrounding area. Innovative approaches for surface wave analysis based on laterally constrained inversion and multimodal inversion have been applied to the data. A comparison of the results of the geophysical investigations with the topographic benchmark has shown the capability of the geophysical methods to locate the bottom of the deposit in the areas where the contrast with the host sediments properties is significant. In these areas, the deposit has higher resistivities and lower seismic velocities than the underlying materials. In the areas where the deposit is thicker and richer in fine-grained materials the geophysical parameters are not able to discriminate between the rock avalanche deposit and the underlying sediments. As a secondary task, the geophysical methods also allowed the bedrock pattern to be outlined.

Dates and versions

insu-00549013 , version 1 (21-12-2010)



Laura Valentina Socco, Denis Jongmans, Daniele Boiero, Stefano Stocco, Margherita Maraschini, et al.. Geophysical investigation of the Sandalp rock avalanche deposits. Journal of Applied Geophysics, 2010, 70 (4), pp.277-291. ⟨10.1016/j.jappgeo.2009.12.005⟩. ⟨insu-00549013⟩
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