First Advisor

Adam Booth

Date of Publication

Winter 4-10-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geology






Landslides -- Oregon -- Linn County, Mass-wasting, Landslide hazard analysis, Debris avalanches



Physical Description

1 online resource (xi, 250 pages)


Landslides represent a serious hazard to people and property in the Pacific Northwest. Currently, the factors leading to sudden catastrophic failure vs. gradual slow creeping are not well understood. Utilizing high-resolution monitoring techniques at a sub-annual temporal scale can help researchers better understand the mechanics of mass wasting processes and possibly lead to better mitigation of their danger. This research used historical imagery analysis, precipitation data, aerial lidar analysis, Structure from Motion (SfM) photogrammetry, terrestrial laser scanning (TLS), and hydrologic measurements to monitor displacement of the Silt Creek Landslide in the western Cascade Mountain Range in Linn County, Oregon. This landslide complex is ~4 km long by ~400 m wide. The lower portion of the landslide reactivated following failure of an internal scarp in June 2014. Precipitation was measured on site and historical precipitation data was determined from a nearby SNOTEL site. Analysis of aerial lidar data found that the internal scarp failure deposited around 1.00x106 m3 of material over an area of 1.20x105 m2 at the uppermost portion of the reactivated slide. Aerial lidar analysis also found that displacement rates on the slide surface were as high as 3 m/yr during the 2015 water year, which was the year immediately following the failure. At the beginning of the 2016 water year, very low altitude aerial images were collected and used to produce point cloud data, via SfM, of a deformed gravel road which spans a portion of the reactivated slide. The SfM data were complimentary to the aerial and TLS scans. The SfM point cloud had an average point density of >7500 points per square meter. The resulting cloud was manipulated in 3D software to produce a model of the road prior to deformation. This was then compared to the original deformed model. Average displacement found in the deformed gravel road was 7.5 m over the 17 months between the scarp failure and the collection of the images, or ~3 m/yr. TLS point clouds were collected quarterly over the course of the 2016 water year at six locations along the eastern margin of the reactivated portion of the landslide. These 3D point cloud models of the landslide surface had an average density of 175 points per square meter. Scans were georeferenced to UTM coordinates and relative alignment of the scans was accomplished by first using the iterative closest point algorithm to align stable, off-slide terrain, and then applying the same rigid body translation to the entire scan. This was repeated for each scan at each location. Landmarks, such as tree trunks, were then manually selected at each location and their coordinates were recorded from the initial scan and each successive scan to measure displacement vectors. Average annual displacement for the 2016 water year ranged from a maximum of 0.92 m/yr in the uppermost studied area of the slide, to a low of 0.1 m/yr at the toe. Average standard deviation of the vectors of features on stable areas was 0.039 m, corresponding to a minimum detectable displacement of about ±4 cm. Displacement totals decreased with increasing distance downslope from the internal scarp failure. Additionally, displacement tended to increase with increasing distance laterally onto the slide body away from the right margin at all locations except the uppermost, where displacement rates were relatively uniform for all landmarks. Volumetric discharge measurements were collected for Silt Creek in 2016 using salt dilution gauging and found that discharge in the upslope portion of the study area was ~1 m3/s and increased to ~1.6 m3/s in the downslope portion. Landslide displacement rates were found to be much lower during the 2016 water year than during the 2015 water year, despite higher precipitation. This suggests that the over-all displacement trend was decoupled from precipitation values. Displacement rates at all locations on the slide decreased with each successive scan period with some portions of the landslide stopping by autumn of 2016, suggesting the study captured the slide as it returned to a state of stability. The spatial and temporal pattern of displacement is consistent with the interpretation that the landslide reactivation was a response to the undrained load applied by the internal scarp failure. This finding highlights the importance of detailed landslide monitoring to improve hazard estimation and quantification of landslide mechanics. This study provides new evidence that supports previous research showing that internal processes within landslide complexes can have feedback relationships, combines several existing 3D measurement tools to develop a detailed landslide monitoring methodology, uses a novel approach to landslide surface deformation measurements using SfM, and suggests that landslide initiation models which rely heavily on precipitation values may not account for other sources of landslide activation.


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