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Impact of seismicity on Nice slope stability

Ligurian Basin, SE France: a geotechnical revisit
: Roesner, A.; Wiemer, G.; Kreiter, S.; Wenau, S.; Wu, T.-W.; Courboulex, F.; Spiess, V.; Kopf, A.


Landslides 16 (2019), S.23-35
ISSN: 1612-510X
ISSN: 1612-5118
Fraunhofer IWES ()

The shallow Nice submarine slope is notorious for the 1979 tsunamigenic landslide that caused eight casualties and severe infrastructural damage. Many previous studies have tackled the question whether earthquake shaking would lead to slope failure and a repetition of the deadly scenario in the region. The answers are controversial. In this study, we assess for the first time the factor of safety using peak ground accelerations (PGAs) from synthetic accelerograms from a simulated offshore Mw 6.3 earthquake at a distance of 25 km from the slope. Based on cone penetration tests (CPTu) and multichannel seismic reflection data, a coarser grained sediment layer was identified. In an innovative geotechnical approach based on uniform cyclic and arbitrary triaxial loading tests, we show that the sandy silt on the Nice submarine slope will fail under certain ground motion conditions. The uniform cyclic triaxial tests indicate that liquefaction failure is likely to occur in Nice slope sediments in the case of a Mw 6.3 earthquake 25 km away. A potential future submarine landslide could have a slide volume (7.7 × 106 m3) similar to the 1979 event. Arbitrary loading tests reveal post-loading pore water pressure rise, which might explain post-earthquake slope failures observed in the field. This study shows that some of the earlier studies offshore Nice may have overestimated the slope stability because they underestimated potential PGAs on the shallow marine slope deposits.