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Earth Surface Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 6, issue 2 | Copyright

Special issue: From process to signal – advancing environmental...

Earth Surf. Dynam., 6, 525-550, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 27 Jun 2018

Research article | 27 Jun 2018

Characterizing the complexity of microseismic signals at slow-moving clay-rich debris slides: the Super-Sauze (southeastern France) and Pechgraben (Upper Austria) case studies

Naomi Vouillamoz, Sabrina Rothmund, and Manfred Joswig Naomi Vouillamoz et al.
  • Institute for Geophysics, University of Stuttgart, 70174 Stuttgart, Germany

Abstract. Soil and debris slides are prone to rapid and dramatic reactivation. Deformation within the instability is accommodated by sliding, whereby weak seismic energies are released through material deformation. Thus, passive microseismic monitoring provides information that relates to the slope dynamics. In this study, passive microseismic data acquired at Super-Sauze (southeastern France) and Pechgraben (Upper Austria) slow-moving clay-rich debris slides (clayey landslides) are investigated. Observations are benchmarked against previous similar case studies to provide a comprehensive and homogenized typology of microseismic signals at clayey landslides. A thorough knowledge of the various microseismic signals generated by slope deformation is crucial for the future development of automatic detection systems to be implemented in landslide early-warning systems. Detected signals range from short-duration ( < 2s) quake-like signals to a wide variety of longer-duration tremor-like radiations ( > 2s – several min). The complexity of seismic velocity structures, the low quantity and low quality of available signal onsets and non-optimal seismic network geometry severely impedes the source location procedure; thus, rendering source processes characterization challenging. Therefore, we constrain sources' locations using the prominent waveform amplitude attenuation pattern characteristic of near-source area ( < about 50m) landslide-induced microseismic events. A local magnitude scale for clayey landslides (ML − LS) is empirically calibrated using calibration shots and hammer blow data. The derived ML − LS returns daily landslide-induced microseismicity rates that positively correlate with higher average daily displacement rates. However, high temporal and spatial resolution analyses of the landslide dynamics and hydrology are required to better decipher the potential relations linking landslide-induced microseismic signals to landslide deformation.

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Short summary
Seismic monitoring of active landslides enables the detection of microseismic signals generated by slope activity. We propose a classification of microseismic signals observed at two active clay-rich debris slides and a simple method to constrain their source origin and their size based on their signal amplitudes. A better understanding of landslide-induced microseismicity is crucial for the development of early warning systems based on landslide-induced microseismic signal precursors.
Seismic monitoring of active landslides enables the detection of microseismic signals generated...