Articles | Volume 8, issue 7
Methods for assessment of models
07 Jul 2015
Methods for assessment of models |  | 07 Jul 2015

GASAKe: forecasting landslide activations by a genetic-algorithms-based hydrological model

O. G. Terranova, S. L. Gariano, P. Iaquinta, and G. G. R. Iovine

Abstract. GASAKe is a new hydrological model aimed at forecasting the triggering of landslides. The model is based on genetic algorithms and allows one to obtain thresholds for the prediction of slope failures using dates of landslide activations and rainfall series. It can be applied to either single landslides or a set of similar slope movements in a homogeneous environment.

Calibration of the model provides families of optimal, discretized solutions (kernels) that maximize the fitness function. Starting from the kernels, the corresponding mobility functions (i.e., the predictive tools) can be obtained through convolution with the rain series. The base time of the kernel is related to the magnitude of the considered slope movement, as well as to the hydro-geological complexity of the site. Generally, shorter base times are expected for shallow slope instabilities compared to larger-scale phenomena. Once validated, the model can be applied to estimate the timing of future landslide activations in the same study area, by employing measured or forecasted rainfall series.

Examples of application of GASAKe to a medium-size slope movement (the Uncino landslide at San Fili, in Calabria, southern Italy) and to a set of shallow landslides (in the Sorrento Peninsula, Campania, southern Italy) are discussed. In both cases, a successful calibration of the model has been achieved, despite unavoidable uncertainties concerning the dates of occurrence of the slope movements. In particular, for the Sorrento Peninsula case, a fitness of 0.81 has been obtained by calibrating the model against 10 dates of landslide activation; in the Uncino case, a fitness of 1 (i.e., neither missing nor false alarms) has been achieved using five activations. As for temporal validation, the experiments performed by considering further dates of activation have also proved satisfactory.

In view of early-warning applications for civil protection, the capability of the model to simulate the occurrences of the Uncino landslide has been tested by means of a progressive, self-adaptive procedure. Finally, a sensitivity analysis has been performed by taking into account the main parameters of the model.

The obtained results are quite promising, given the high performance of the model against different types of slope instabilities characterized by several historical activations. Nevertheless, further refinements are still needed for application to landslide risk mitigation within early-warning and decision-support systems.

Short summary
A model for predicting the timing of activation of rainfall-induced landslides is presented. Calibration against real events is based on genetic algorithms, and provides a family of optimal solutions (kernels) that maximize a fitness function. Accordingly, a set of mobility functions is obtained through convolution with rainfall. Once properly validated, the model allows one to estimate future landslide activations in the same study area, by employing either recorded or forecasted rainfall.