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Proceedings of Indian Geotechnical Conference

December 22-24,2013, Roorkee



S. Sarkar, Sr. Principal Scientist, CSIR-CBRI Roorkee, shantanu_cbri@yahoo.co.in

D. P. Kanungo, Principal Scientist, CSIR-CBRI Roorkee, debi.kanungo@gmail.com
S. Sharma, Women Scientist (DST), CSIR-CBRI Roorkee, shaifalysharma1@gmail.com
D. Singh, Research Scholar, CSIR-CBRI Roorkee, davindersingh7007@gmail.com

ABSTRACT: Landslides are frequently occurring phenomena in the Indian Himalayas causing considerable loss
of lives and property every year. There are several landslide potential zones along the Pipalkoti-Josjhimath
National Highway (NH-58). A few landslides of different natures were identified which are affecting the road and
traffic and thereby posing threats to lives and properties. High resolution satellite data was used to map landslides
in GIS environment. In the present study landslide hazard assessment has been carried out in the above said area by
delineating a few landslide potential zones. To assess the degree of hazard in these potential zones, landslide
intensity was considered as the measure of hazard. An attempt has been made to define landslide intensity based on
types of failure, landslide volume and expected landslide velocity. Using the approach four landslide potential
zones along Pipalkoti-Joshimath road was delineated.

INTRODUCTION Hence there is a dire need of hazard assessment

Landslides are responsible for loss of lives and along the road. With this in view, the present study
properties every year in the Himalayas. In spite of has been carried out in a small road sector in
advancement in landslide prediction and control Pipalkoti-Joshimath region to assess the landslide
measures, worldwide landslide activity is hazards (Fig. 1).
increasing. The increased urbanization, continued
deforestation and increased regional precipitation LANDSLIDES ALONG THE PIPALKOTI-
caused by changing climatic patterns are some of JOSHIMATH ROAD
the factors which are inducing more instability in The work was initiated with identifying the
the already landslide prone regions. existing and potential landslide areas along
The main highways, which are important pilgrim Pipalkotii-Joshimath road (NH-58).
route and also the life lines for border areas, of the
Uttarakhand State in the Lesser and Higher
Himalayas are continuously being affected by
several landslides. These landslides along these
highways pose recurring problems to the traffics
particularly during the monsoon season. One such
road is the National Highway (NH-58) from
Rishikesh to Badrinath. This highway is very
badly affected by many landslides in the upper
reaches of Alaknanda valley. There are many
active landslides which are causing loss of lives
and property including forest and agricultural land Fig. 1 Study area in Google image
along the road sector from Chamoli to Badrinath.
This is a high landslide prone zone due to complex Field investigation was carried out and relevant
geological formation, steep slopes, highly dissected landslide data were collected. This includes type of
topography, toe erosion by rivers, seismically landslides, failure mechanism, geological
active belt and high rainfall. formation, structural data and causative factors. 14

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S. Sarkar, D. P. Kanungo, D. Singh & S. Sharma

landslides of different types were identified which mapped from satellite data in GIS environment. A
are affecting the road and traffic. segment of the image with a few landslides
mapped is shown in the Fig 3.
The landslides identified were classified into debris
slide, debris flow, rock fall and rock slide. It was LANDSLIDE HAZARD
observed in the field that the most frightening Landslide hazard can be defined as the probability
landslides in this area are rock fall and debris flow. of occurrence of a landslide of a given magnitude,
Landslide masses are mainly composed of in a pre-defined period of time, and in a given area
boulders, rock fragments and debris materials. [6]. The definition incorporates the concepts of
Rock slides are predominantly planar failures along spatial location, magnitude or intensity, and
discontinuity plane. The slopes occupied by frequency of occurrence.
landslides range from 35 to 80. Most of the
landslides have fractured and jointed rocks below
the crown portion and debris accumulation in the
main body which is extending below the road.
These debris materials get activated during rain
and cause damage to the roads and sometimes even
responsible for casualties. Rock falls are another
important type occurring at a few places, which are
often catastrophic causing loss of life. There are
some landslides which are complex in nature
involving multiple failure modes. A few landslides
are shown in the Fig 2. All the above landslides
were grouped into four potential hazard zones.

Fig. 3 Landslides mapped on CARTSAT


Ideally, a landslide hazard map portrays the

location and probability of occurrence of mass
movements of pre-defined or design magnitudes in
the study area [2,5]. It is recommended that
landslide hazard should include information on the
landslide magnitude [4]. However, so far there is
no measure of landslide magnitude exists today
and landslide destruction could be used as a
measure of landslide magnitude. Guzzetti et al.,
(1999) [5] has suggested measure of hazard in
Fig. 2 A few landslides along Pipalkoti- Joshimath terms of landslide frequency (F) and intensity (I).
road H = f (F, I).
Hence to assess the hazard, information on
These landslides were mapped on the high landslide frequency is needed. But historical data
resolution CARTOSAT I remote sensing image of landslide occurrence are not always available.
having 2.5 m resolution. The remote sensing image Hence in the present study we have considered the
was used to retrieve information related to landslide intensity only to define the landslide
topography, landslide limits, debris accumulation hazard. Further, landslide intensity was defined by
and other relevant features of these landslides. The Cardinali et al., (2002) [1] as a function of the
river, major streams, roads and landslides were

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Potential landslide zones along Pipalkoti-Joshimath road, Alaknanda valley

landslide volume (v) and of the landslide expected experimental and live landslide occurrence data.
velocity (s), But this takes a long time to establish the velocity
I = f (v, s) of a particular landslide. A few workers have tried
to generalize landslide velocity with types of
LANDSLIDE HAZARD ASSESSMENT landslides which depends on the type of failure, its
Hazard assessment of the identified landslides was volume and the estimated depth of movement.
carried out to assess the overall hazard scenario of Cruden & Varnes (1996) [3] defined a quantitative
the selected road sector in the Pipalkoti-Joshimath landslide velocity scale (Table 2).
region. Since frequency data of landslide
occurrence were not available, we have defined Table 2 Landslide velocity scale (Cruden &
landslide hazard based on landslide intensity only. Varnes, 1996)
So far landslide intensity is not reported in our Description Velocity Typical
country. An attempt has been made in this study to (m/sec) Velocity
define landslide intensity and classify these Extremely 5 5 m/sec
landslides based on intensity to assess the hazard rapid
level. To define the intensity; volume and velocity, Very rapid 0.05 3 m/min
of the landslides were considered.
Rapid 5x10-4 1.8 m/hr
Estimation of Landslide Volume
Volumes of landslides were estimated based on the Moderate 5x10-6 13
types of failure and the geometry of landslide m/month
body. Landslides were classified as deep-seated or Slow 5x10-8 1.6 m/year
shallow, depending on the type of movement and Very Slow 5x10-10 16
the landslide volume. As stated earlier, landslides mm/year
were mapped on the remote sensing image based Extremely
on field investigation and image interpretation. The Slow
areas of these mapped landslides were determined
using GIS tools. The debris material thickness and As it is not always possible to have landslide
the dimension of rock blocks were assessed in the monitoring data, we have preferred to define the
field. The landslides volume estimated ranges from landslide velocity based on landslide types. In the
50m3 to > 1, 00,000 m3 which was classified into present study we have preferred to estimate the
four classes (Table 1). expected velocity of the landslides based on the
types of failure. The landslides in the present study
Table 1 Classes of landslide volume are mainly debris flow, rock fall, rock slide, debris
Estimated landslide Class slide and rotational slide/subsidence. Hence a
volume (m ) landslide velocity scale based on landslide types
<1000 Low has been defined in the present context (Table 3).
1000-10,000 Medium
Table 3 Landslide types and velocity
10,000 1,00,000 High Type Velocity (m/sec)
>1,00,000 Very High Rock Fall Very High
Rock Slide High
Estimation of Landslide Velocity Debris flow High
Landslide velocity could be determined by Debris Flow Moderate
monitoring the landslide movement for a
Rotational Slide/ Low
reasonable period of time. There are many
examples of landslide velocities based on

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S. Sarkar, D. P. Kanungo, D. Singh & S. Sharma

Finally the intensity of each landslide was intensity of debris flow is mostly very high because
determined from the estimated volume and of the high velocity and high volume of debris. The
expected velocity of the landslides (Table 4). results obtained from the above study gives eight
combinations of volume and velocity to define four
Table 4 Landslide intensity based on volume and Intensity classes (Table 5) in this part of Garhwal
landslide type Himalaya.
Table 5 Proposed Landslide Intensity classes
Volume Velocity Intensity

High Slow Low


Medium Moderate Medium



High Moderate Medium

Medium High High
I 1 Debris Mediu Moderat Mediu
& rock m e m Very high Moderate High
slide High High Very high
2 Debris Mediu Moderat Mediu Very High High Very high
slide m e m Low Very high High
II 3 Rotation High Slow Low
al As already stated that in the present study landslide
4 Rock Mediu High High intensity has been directly taken as a measure of
Slide m hazard, four hazard classes related to four intensity
5 Debris High Moderat Mediu classes were defined below:
slide e m Very High
6 Rock Mediu High High High
slide m
7 Rock Low Very High Low
fall high
8 Debris Very High Very
flow high high To present the landslide hazard zones along
III 9 Rock & High High High
Pipalkoti-Joshimath road sector in a map a Digital
debris Elevation Model (DEM) was generated in GIS.
slide This map was used for presenting the various
hazard zones and their classes obtained from the
10 Debris Very Moderat High
slide high e above study. To define the hazards of the four
zones, combined effect of landslides contained in
11 Debris High High Very
flow high these zones were considered. The zones 1, 2, 3 and
4 come under the hazard categories of moderate,
12 Debris High Moderat Mediu
very high, high and high respectively. The map
slide e m
IV 13 Rock Low Very High showing the hazard levels of the four selected
Fall high zones along the Pipalkoti-Joshimath road sector is
14 Rock Mediu High High shown in the Figure 4.
slide m
15 Rock Mediu High High CONCLUSION
slide m In the present study landslide hazard along
Piplakoti-Joshimath highway, which is severely
affected by many landslides, was assessed. Four
From the above table it can be observed that debris
hazard zones were identified which contain 14
flow, rock fall and rock slide come under the
landslides. To assess the hazard, a landslide
category of very high and high hazard. Though the
intensity scale was defined for this part of Garhwal
velocity of rock fall is always very high but in
Himalaya. This intensity has been considered as
terms of volume it is always the least. In contrast,

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Potential landslide zones along Pipalkoti-Joshimath road, Alaknanda valley

1.Cardinali, M., Reichenbach, P., Guzzetti, F.,
Ardizzone, F., Antonini, G., Galli, M., Cacciano,
M., Castellani, M. and Salvati, P., 2002, A
geomorphological approach to estimate landslide
hazard and risk in urban and rural areas in
Umbria, Central Italy. Natural Hazards and
Earth System Sciences, 2, 57- 72.
2.Carrara, A., Cardinali, M., Guzzetti, F. and
Reichenbach, P., 1995, GIS technology in
mapping landslide hazard. Carrara A and Guzetti
F (ed.). Geographical Information Systems in
Assessing Natural Hazards, pp. 135- 176.
3.Cruden, D.M. and Varnes, D.J., 1996, Landslide
types and processes. In: Turner A.K, and
Schuster R.L. (eds) Landslides: investigation
Fig. 4 Landslide potential zones with hazard classes and mitigation (Special Report). Washington,
DC, USA: National Research Council,
the measure of hazard. It was found that in most of Transportation and Research Board Special
the cases debris flow, rock fall and rock slide come Report 247, 36 -75.
under the category of very high and high hazards. 4. Fell, R., Corominas, J., Bonnard, C., Cascini, L.,
The landslide intensity scale proposed in the Leroi, E. And Savage, W., 2008, Guidelines for
present study can be refined with more such landslide susceptibility, hazard and risk zoning
studies. This approach can be used in other for land use planning. Engineering Geology,
landslide prone regions of Himalayas. Such studies 102, 85 98.
of hazard assessment are very useful to decide the 5. Guzzetti, F., Carrara, A., Cardinali, M. and
need of implementing control measures and also to Reichenbach, P., 1999, Landslide hazard
keep watch during heavy rains so that timely evaluation: an aid to a sustainable development.
warning can be made. Geomorphology 31, 181 - 216.
6. Varnes, D.J., 1984, Landslide hazard zonation:
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT A review of principles and practice. Natural
Authors are grateful to the Director, CSIR-Central Hazards, UNESCO, Paris, France, 3, 63.
Building Research Institute for granting permission
to publish this paper.

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