Effect of rainfall infiltration on the hydraulic response and failure mechanisms of sandy slope models


  • Juan David Montoya-Domínguez Geomecánica Integral S.A.S. (Medellín-Antioquia, Colombia).
  • Edwin Fabián García-Aristizábal Universidad de Antioquia (Medellín - Antioquia, Colombia).
  • Carlos Alberto Vega-Posada Universidad de Antioquia (Medellín - Antioquia, Colombia).




initial water content, laboratory testing, slope models, unsaturated soil, water infiltration


This paper presents experimental results obtained from silty sand slope models subjected to an artificial rainfall. Four models were constructed to evaluate the effect of initial water content and rainfall intensity on the hydraulic behavior and failure mechanisms of the slopes. The models were instrumented with volumetric water content sensors to monitor the advance of the water front, and inclinometers to measure lateral movements of the slope. The models were subjected to rainfall intensities ranging from 25 to 50 mm/h, and durations from 19 to 152 minutes. The influence of low intensity rainfall events before a high intensity rainfall is discussed herein. The results showed that the time the slope models required to reach failure was influenced by the soil initial water content, being shorter at high initial water contents. These results are useful to understand the behavior of unsaturated natural slopes and embankments exposed to rainfall infiltration, and to complement the existing laboratory database existing in this subject.


Download data is not yet available.


L. W. Abramson, T. S. Lee, S. Sharma, and G. M. Boyce. Slope Stability and Stabilization Methods. New York: Wiley Interscience Publications, 2001.

S. A. Anderson and N. Sitar, “Analysis of rainfall-induced debris flows,” J Geotech Engrg, vol. 121(7), pp. 544-552, Jul. 1995. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9410(1995)121:7(544). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9410(1995)121:7(544)

R. P. Orense. Geotechnical Hazards: Nature, Assessment and Mitigation. Quezon City: The University of the Philippines Press, 2003.

M. R. Hakro and I. S. H. Harahap, “Laboratory experiments on rainfall-induced flowslide from pore pressure and moisture content measurements,” Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, vol. 3, pp. 1575-1613, 2015. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5194/nhessd-3-1575-2015. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5194/nhessd-3-1575-2015

Y. Yoshida, J. Kuwano, and R. Kuwano, “Rain-induced slope failures caused by reduction in soil strength,” Soils and Foundations, vol. 31(4), pp. 187-193, 1991. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3208/sandf1972.31.4_187. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3208/sandf1972.31.4_187

H. Yamagishi, T. Horimatsu, T. Kanno, and M. Hatamoto, “Recent landslides in Niigata Region, Japan,” in Proc. of the 4th Asian Symposium on Engineering Geology and the Environment, Hong Kong, 2004, pp. 1- 6. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10346-004-0032-2

Y. Nakata, D. Liu, M. Hyodo, N. Yoshimoto, and Y. Kato, “Numerical simulation of an expressway embankment slope failure,” in Proc. of Theoretical and Numerical Advances in Unsaturated Soil Mechanics, 2010, pp. 719-724.

H. Chen, S. Dadson, and Y. Chi, “Recent rainfall induced landslides and debris flow in northern Taiwan,” Geomorphology, vol. 77(1-2), pp. 112-125, Jul. 2006. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2006.01.002. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2006.01.002

S. W. C. Au, “Rain-induced slope instability in Hong Kong,” Engineering Geology, vol. 51 (1), pp. 1-36, Nov. 1998. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0013-7952(98)00038-6. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0013-7952(98)00038-6

E. W. Brand, “Some thoughts on rain-induced slope failures,” in Proc. of the 10th International Conference on Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering, vol. 3, 1981, pp. 373-376.

E. W. Brand, “Analysis and design in residual soils,” In Engineering and Construction in Tropical and Residual Soils, Proceedings of the ASCE Geotechnical Division Specialty Conference, Honolulu, Hawaii, 1982, pp. 89-143.

R. P. Brenner, H. K. Tam, and E. W. Brand, “Field stress path simulation of rain-induced slope failure,” in Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering, vol. 2, 1985, pp. 991-996.

J. H. Atkinson and D. M. Farrar, “Stress path tests to measure soil strength parameters for shallow landslips,” in Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering, A. A. Balkema, Brookfield, Vt., vol. 2, 1985, pp. 983-986.

K. Farooq, “Experimental Study on Failure Initiation in Sandy Slopes due to Rainfall Infiltration”. Ph. D. dissertation, University of Tokyo, Japan. 2002.

G. P. K. Chaminda, “Real Time Prediction of Rain-Induced Embankment by Minimum Measurements with Back-analysis for SWCC Parameters”. Ph. D. Dissertation, University of Tokyo, Japan, 2006.

K. A. Johnson and N. Sitar, “Hydrologic Conditions leading to debris-flow initiation,” Canadian Geotechnical Journal, vol. 27(6), pp. 789-801, Dec. 1990. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/t90-092. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1139/t90-092

R. H. Campbell, “Soil slips, debris flows and rainstorms in the Santa Monica Mountains and vicinity,” Southern California. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 851, 1975, 51 pp. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3133/pp851

P. Boonsinsuk and R. N. Yong, “Analysis of Hong Kong residual soil slopes,” Engineering and Construction in Tropical and Residual Soils, Proc. ASCE Geotechnical Division Specialty Conference, Honolulu, Hawaii, 1982, pp. 463-482.

J. D. Eckersley, “Instrumented laboratory flowslides,” Géotechnique, vol. 40(3), pp. 489-502, Sep. 1990. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1680/geot.1990.40.3.489. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1680/geot.1990.40.3.489

S. Shimoma, R. P. Orense, T. Honda, K. Maeda, and I. Towhata, “Model tests on slope failures caused by heavy rainfall,” in Proc. Interpraevent 2002 in the Pacifica Rim: Protection of Habitat against Floods, Debris Flows and Avalanches, vol. 2, 2002, pp., 547-557.

M. Hormaza, “Investigación preliminar de las causas probables de deslizamientos en las laderas de Medellín”. Undergraduate dissertation, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, 529 pp., 1991.

R. Saldarriaga, “Inventario y sistematización de los desastres naturales reportados en los municipios del Valle de Aburrá, entre los años 1900 y 2002”. Undergraduate Dissertation, Universidad EAFIT, 120 pp., 2003.

E. Aristizábal and J. Gómez, “Inventario de emergencias y desastres en el Valle de Aburrá: originados por fenómenos naturales y antrópicos en el periodo 1880-2007,” Revista Gestión y Ambiente, vol. 10(2), pp. 17-30, 2007.

H. Rahardjo, X. W. Li, D. G. Toll, and E. C. Leong, “The effect of antecedent rainfall on slope stability,” Geotechnical and Geological Engineering, Springer, vol. 19, pp. 371-399, 2001. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/A:1013129725263. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-015-9775-3_8



  • Abstract
  • PDF
  • HTML

How to Cite

Montoya-Domínguez, J D, García-Aristizábal, E F, & Vega-Posada, C A. (2016). Effect of rainfall infiltration on the hydraulic response and failure mechanisms of sandy slope models. Revista Facultad de Ingeniería, 25(43), 97–109. https://doi.org/10.19053/01211129.v25.n43.2016.5302