Impact of Large Landslides in the Mountain



The success of a transnational project is proportionally related to the capacity of co-ordination of its leaders. Due to this, the consortium decided to separate the co-ordination activities in:

financial/administrative co-ordination

scientific co-ordination

The Regione Piemonte, now as ARPA Piemonte (ARPA), is the financial/administrative co-ordinator of the project due to its structure, which is suitable for the management of the administrative part. Besides, RP has already gained a relevant experience in several important projects. Dr. Coccolo in particular represents RP in several national and international projects, both as participant organisation and as co-ordinator (i.e. INTERREG, FLOODAWARE, RAPHAEL).

The Politecnico di Torino (POLITO), and namely the Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering, takes the responsibility for the scientific co-ordination of the project, due to the scientific and technical competence on slope stability studies. In particular, Prof. Scavia is scientific responsable for POLITO of several research project funded by EU (INTERREG, CALAR).

ARPA and POLITO are both located in Torino (Italy) and usually collaborate in national and European projects (i.e. INTERREG); they will strictly co-operate for activity programming, supervision, and evaluation as well as for the submission of the interim and annual reports and for the administrative and financial aspects related to the project.

The consortium is composed by seven organisations and five countries are represented, four of them belonging to the European Union:


  Organisation name Role Acronym Country Team co-ordinator
ARPA Piemonte
Settore Studi e Ricerche Geologiche-Sistema Informativo Prevenzione Rischi
Financial/Administrative co-ordinator ARPA Italy Vincenzo Coccolo
Politecnico di Torino Dipartimento di Ingegneria Strutturale e Geotecnica Scientific co-ordinator POLITO Italy Claudio Scavia
CNR Istituto di Geoscienze e Georisorse Principal contractor CNR-IGG Italy Riccardo Polino
Laboratoire Central des Ponts et Chaussées Division for Soil Mechanics, Rock Mechanics, Engineering Geology Principal contractor LCPC France Jean-Louis Durville
Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya Departamento de Ingeniería del Terreno Principal contractor UPC Spain Pere Prat
Technische Universität Wien Institute for Engineering Geology Principal contractor TUW Austria Ewald Tentschert
Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne Département de Génie Civil-Laboratoire de Mécanique des Sols Principal contractor EPFL Switzerland Christophe Bonnard


The project focuses on aspects of risk management in the case of landslides, in its scientific, technical and land planning aspects. Within the consortium a research organisation (CNR-IGG) and some universities (POLITO, UPC, TUW, EPFL) are therefore placed beside two end-users (ARPA, LCPC), who have to face every day with practical land management problems. The end-users guided the choice of many research multidisciplinary topics of the project, in relation to their needs.

The countries involved in the project allowed to select, for the development and exemplification of risk assessment and management methodologies, sites of large landslides located in various mountain environment, from Pyrenées (Spain, France) to the west, to Austrian Alps to the East, passing through western (France, Italy) and central Alps (Switzerland), so as to give a good degree of generality to the methodologies and to give a European dimension to the project. In this way, the results can also be diffused and applied outside the countries directly involved in the project.

The multidisciplinary character of the project calls for the participation of different and complementary expertises; the following specific teams have been selected with the criteria of assuring all the needed competence.

The principal institutional goal of the Geological Survey of RP, (represented by the Direzione Servizi Tecnici di Prevenzione) now ARPA Piemonte is to develop methodologies and tools to assess, manage and minimise the geological risk.

The institution has been working since 1978, increasing its experience in engineering geology, geomechanics and data treatment with GIS techniques. It is therefore intended to put at partners’ disposal the work done in this field, exploiting the experience achieved in the improvement of Geological Informative System of the ARPA Piemonte, during 1999 (WP1).

Furthermore, as a logical consequence and as a relevant project feature, the RP will include an action related to results dissemination by CD media and web (WP9).

Finally, ARPA can give a contribution for extensive application of statistical techniques to assess landslide hazard within a GIS environment (WP5)

CNR-IGG is involved in basic geological, structural, petrographical and mineralogical researches (WP2). A relevant activity is the fieldwork for the survey of the National Geological Map of Italy at the 1:50000 scale. In this context, applied research for the analysis and mitigation of the geologic risk have been worked out in the last years in co-operations with some Italian Institutions (i.e. Regione Piemonte, Regione Valle d’Aosta and Politecnico di Torino).

POLITO (Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering) is carrying out some research in the field of soil mechanics, rock mechanics and slope stability. It has experience in the geomechanical modelling of rock masses, on the basis of the site geology and in the application of numerical methods to the definition of hazard scenarios. To this end a 2D Boundary Element Method (BEMCOM) for the analysis of slope stability has been developed. Due to its competences, POLITO can assure a link between the workpackages in phase II (development of risk assessment methodologies, WP2-WP5), giving an important contribution to the application of the methodologies to the selected sites (WP7).

The problem of the scenarios obtained through numerical modelling (WP3) focuses on 3D approaches. To this end, POLITO intends to extend the use of Boundary Element Methods to 3D and to apply them to some of the selected sites. The need to apply different methodologies on the same sites is then fulfilled through its co-operation with two other universities: UPC and TUW.

UPC is a specialist in the development of sophisticated Finite Element Methods. The Geomechanics Group of the Department of Geotechnical Engineering and Geosciences at UPC is a leading centre of research in the field of Soil and Rock Mechanics, on landslide hazards and landslide modelling, on the numerical analysis of coupled thermo-hydro-mechanical problems, on laboratory and fieldwork. The project will give the opportunity of applying the finite element code DRAC, developed during recent years in the Department, to large-scale three-dimensional slope stability analysis.

TUW has experience in the use of Finite Difference Methods. They have experience in the stability analysis of large landslides by using the commercial code FLAC3D (Itasca).

Additionally they focus their interest in modelling the run out mechanisms. Therefore TUW intend to simulate the run out behaviour to estimate the risk area using PFC. The idea is to use the initial failure data of a FLAC3D calculation for a simulation of the run out mechanism by PFC for a particular site (WP4).

EPFL, within its Research Centre on Landslides, has developed some years ago several methodologies for the hazard mapping of large zones affected by landslides (Karte Bodenbewegungsgefahren Adelboden, 1996; Carte de gestion de la Commune de Belmont; mapas de inestabilidad y de riesgo de la región de Cusco, Perú, 1999). A general study of the vulnerability of the Arveyes village, affected by a deep-seated landslide, has also been done, as well as a risk study for a part of the nearby village of Villars, with Prof. H.H. Einstein (1988). Several buildings on landslides have also been monitored in order to assess their vulnerability (WP6).

Furthermore, The Soil Mechanics Laboratory of EPFL has developed recently a method for the prediction of landslide behaviour based on neural network analysis (WP5) which is a significant contribution to quantify risk assessment (Mayoraz et al., 1996).

Finally, several landslide sites in Switzerland and abroad have required a risk analysis within expertise works considering direct and indirect consequences. In particular, the team leader, Ch. Bonnard, has assessed the level of residual risks induced by the catastrophic debris flows and landslides in Venezuela following the disaster of December 1999, on behalf of the Swiss Disaster Relief Unit.

LCPC has a great experience in working for the State and the local authorities in connection with professionals involved in civil engineering, transport, urban engineering and environment. One of the original characteristics of LCPC resides in its role as technical network co-ordinator for infrastructure, as far as natural hazards are concerned. For this reason it will give a fundamental contribution to the application of the project’s results to actual risk management problems, in the establishment of mitigation strategies and the evaluation of residual risk (WP8). It will also assure a linkage among the consortium and the end-users (administrative and politics).

In addition to the characteristics of multi-disciplinarity and complementarity described above, the consortium presents a significative joining between well-experienced and young staff (25% of the personnel involved is under 35), and a good female component (20% of women involved).