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Developing a novel geophysical tool to investigate the influence of vegetation on slope stability

Lookup NU author(s): Narryn Thaman, Dr Jessica HolmesORCiD, Dr Ross Stirling, Dr Colin DavieORCiD, Professor Stephanie Glendinning



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2023.Vegetation is important for managing shallow geotechnical assets. However, root water uptake-driven changes in slope hydrology and the near-surface (soil water content, matric suction, and hydraulic conductivity) are highly complex. Improved knowledge of these processes is increasingly important as society faces the threat of a greater prevalence of climate-driven extreme rainfall and drought events. Intrinsic factors affect slope stability, including geometry, soil properties, groundwater, and vegetation-driven matric suction. Field evidence shows that engineered slopes are susceptible to hydrometeorological instability mechanisms and pose a potential failure hazard to asset operation and public safety. This study considers the combination of a novel geophysical monitoring system and geotechnical point sensors for use in controlled laboratory conditions to assess the influence of vegetation on soil-water dynamics in the context of geotechnical infrastructure. The geophysical monitoring system, referred to here as PRIME (Proactive Infrastructure Monitoring and Evaluation system), uses electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) technology to non-invasively image changing subsurface moisture-driven processes. The PRIME system and point sensor arrays are being developed for near real-time data acquisition of transient soil moisture conditions in a suite of soil column experiments. Through addressing the challenges associated with designing integrated geophysical-geotechnical laboratory-scale monitoring experiments, this research aims to provide new tools and approaches to further our understanding of vegetation-driven soil moisture movement to better assess slope instability risk.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Thaman N, Holmes J, Wilkinson P, Boyd J, Meldrum P, Chambers J, Stirling R, Davie C, Glendinning S

Editor(s): Bardanis M

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: 8th International Conference on Unsaturated Soils (UNSAT 2023)

Year of Conference: 2023

Pages: 05008

Online publication date: 24/04/2023

Acceptance date: 02/04/2022

Date deposited: 01/06/2023

ISSN: 2267-1242

Publisher: EDP Sciences


DOI: 10.1051/e3sconf/202338205008

Series Title: E3S Web of Conferences