Enhanced Monitoring of Geologic Hazards in China (SKLGP)

Morwick G360 PROJECT TEAM: Dr. Beth Parker, Dr. John Cherry, Dr. Carlos Maldaner, Kenley Bairos, Dr. Jian Guo & Dr. Qiang Xu

This project, in collaboration with the State Key Laboratory of Geohazard Prevention (SKLGP), Chengdu University of Technology, focuses on the development of an enhanced monitoring and early-warning detection system of geologic hazards using real-time, depth-discrete groundwater pressure data from multi-level systems.

Landslides can be triggered by an increase in groundwater pressure following heavy rainfall events. This poses a significant risk in the rural areas of China, where villages are often located in landslide prone areas that experience significant rainfall events during the wet season. For this reason, considerable research has focused on understanding the influences and timing of the groundwater pressure conditions that lead to landslide events with the goal of developing new methods for assessing landslide risks (Xu et al., 2016).

One such method is the “Monitoring, early-warning and decision support system of geo-hazards” platform currently in-use at a Chengdu University of Technology research site, which assesses landslide risks in real-time by monitoring and transmitting groundwater pressure data using remote data transmission. Currently, this system only monitors osmotic pressure measured over one depth interval, and therefore, overlooks important hydraulic head changes that occur over small vertical intervals (Meyer et al., 2008; 2014). The goal of this project and collaboration was to add two new multiport monitoring wells to the existing monitoring system that can produce real-time measurements of formation pressure at several, depth discrete intervals above, within, and below the landslide slip surface. This was accomplished by installing two multi-level systems directly into the landslide surface: a seven port CMT well fitted with transducers and a buried string of six pressure transducers.  Both systems were connected to a solar-powered data transmission unit able to provide data in real-time to our colleagues in China. Field work was completed by two G360 staff with the assistance of students and staff from the Chengdu University of Technology.

This new type of instrumentation will provide unique information regarding the nature of groundwater flow through the sedimentary rock following rainfall events at the site and may provide a new tool for monitoring landslide environments in real-time throughout China.

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A view of the landslide site in the distance with vulnerable village in foreground.
Researchers installing instrumentation.