Nature-Based Solutions for Mitigating Landslide Hazard

   Department of Civil and Structural Engineering

   Sunday, September 29, 2024  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Landslides, particularly long-runout landslides like debris flows, pose a significant and often devastating threat to communities worldwide. These events can result in loss of life, property damage, and environmental degradation, making their mitigation of paramount importance. Traditional structural mitigation methods, such as retaining walls and debris dams, have proven to be unsustainable over time. These techniques are invasive, emit carbon during construction, and demand substantial maintenance efforts, making them less than ideal for long-term risk reduction.

The research project aims to explore innovative and sustainable alternatives by harnessing the power of nature. The approach centres on utilizing natural ecosystems, particularly forests, to mitigate landslide hazards. Specifically, the strategy is to plant specific types of forests with trees possessing the strength and resilience to impede landslide progression before it escalates into a fast-moving, destructive force.

The project encompasses a comprehensive methodology that integrates numerical simulations, artificial intelligence (AI), and laboratory testing. State-of-the-art numerical modelling will be employed to simulate landslide behaviour under various conditions, including terrain characteristics, rainfall patterns, and forest types. These simulations will help understand how different forest ecosystems can influence landslide dynamics and ultimately reduce their hazard. AI algorithms will be used to generate optimal forest patterns that maximize the effectiveness of landslide mitigation. These patterns will consider factors like tree species, spacing, and growth rates, aiming to create resilient and biodiverse ecosystems capable of halting landslide progression. To validate the simulations, flume laboratory experiments will be conducted. These experiments will involve scaled-down physical models replicating real-world conditions. By observing how different forest configurations impact landslide behaviour, an understanding of the most effective nature-based solutions will emerge.

The project will address the urgent need for sustainable landslide hazard reduction strategies. By shifting the focus from conventional, resource-intensive structural methods to nature-based solutions, the impact of landslides is mitigated while promoting biodiversity and ecosystem restoration. The results of this research can have far-reaching implications, benefiting communities living in landslide-prone regions and contributing to broader environmental conservation efforts.

A Master-level degree in Civil Engineering, Geophysics, Engineering Geology or related disciplines. Previous experience with scientific computing, or an interest in it, are desirable.

Project start date: 30 September 2024.

Engineering (12)


"Pasqua, A., Leonardi, A., & Pirulli, M. (2022). Coupling Depth-Averaged and 3D numerical models for the simulation of granular flows. Computers and Geotechnics, January, 104879.
Liang, Z., Edward, C., Zhao, Y., Jiang, Y., & Choo, J. (2023). Revealing the role of forests in the mobility of geophysical flows. Computers and Geotechnics, 155(December 2022), 105194."

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