Listening for landslides: method, measurements and the Peace River Case Study

Landslides cause many thousands of fatalities each year all over the globe and damage built environment infrastructure costing billions of pounds to repair, resulting in thousands of people being made homeless and the breakdown of basic services such as water supply and transport. There is a clear need for cost effective instrumentation that can provide an early warning of slope instability to enable evacuation of vulnerable people and timely repair and maintenance of critical infrastructure. An approach that uses detection and quantification of acoustic emission (AE) generated as a slope deforms has been developed through research and performance demonstrated in multiple field trials. This paper will describe the measurement system and the approach developed to quantify slope displacement rates. Measurements from long-running field trials in the UK will be shown to demonstrate performance of the method. Finally, the paper will introduce a case study at Peace River, Alberta, where the AE monitoring system is being used to monitor stability of a slope that threatens continued operation of a major highway. Initial AE readings will be presented and compared to surveys of an adjacent inclinometer casing. The influence of precipitation on generated AE and performance of the system during sustained low temperatures will be discussed.