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Reducing Risk from

Landslides
A Multidisciplinary
Approach

International Symposium
Geohazards and Society
29-30 November 2012
NGI, Oslo, Norway

Suzanne Lacasse
International Centre for Geohazards (ICG)/
Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI)

Probability density function

When I started working in the area of hazard and risk .

FS = 1.39, Pf = 0.008
2.0
1.5
1.0

Probability
of failure

FS = 1.73, Pf = 0.020

0.5
-1.0

0.0
0.0
-0.5

1.0

2.0

Factor of safety

3.0

4.0

Today, when working on hazard and risk .

Changing
hazards

Probabilistic
risk
assessment

Changing
vulnerability

Adapting risk management strategies

Loss exceedence curves


Changing risk governance

Why this lecture?


Landslides, triggered by natural processes or human
activity, will happen despite our best efforts to prevent
them. Society must learn to live with landslide risk.
To mitigate risk, one can attempt to reduce the hazard or
reduce the vulnerability and exposure of the elements at
risk, or do both.
Vulnerability is an increasingly important focus area in risk
management. Vulnerability is complex, as it belongs to
several disciplines and addresses many types of assets.
We, geoscientists, are taught how to deal with geoproblems, but not with the subjectivity aspects of
vulnerability and risk perception.

Geo-scientists learn about

Social scientists understand our jargon as:

Socio-economic consequences of natural


disasters in Europe

Risk exists when uncertainties give rise


to adverse consequences
This was Professor Arthur Casagrandes definition.
Casagrande (1965) was the first to formally address its
geotechnical aspects (Role of Calculated Risk in
Earthwork and Foundation engineering). He pointed out
two elements:
The use of imperfect knowledge, guided by experience
and judgment
The decision on an appropriate margin of safety or
degree of risk, accounting for economic factors and the
size of the losses if a failure should occur. Casagrande
used the descriptors great uncertainties and grave
risks rather than numbers.

Risk
management
process
ISO 31000
(2009)

What is risk?
Risk has two distinctive connotations:
- in popular usage, the emphasis is usually placed on
the concept of chance or possibility, such as in the
risk of an accident.
- in technical settings, the emphasis is usually placed
on the consequences, in terms of potential losses
for some particular cause, place and period.
Traditional definition of risk in technical settings:
Risk is the combination of the probability of an event and
its negative consequences. It is considered to be a
function of hazard, exposure and vulnerability.

Risk Assessment and Management


(1) What can cause harm?

Danger identification

(2) How often or how likely


can danger happen?

Estimation of frequency of occurrence


(hazard)

(3) What can go wrong?

Evaluation of loss from vulnerability of


elements at risk (consequence)

(4) How bad are the consequences?

Assessment of severity of
consequence and risk

(5) What should be done?

Acceptability/tolerability of risk,
decision-making and mitigation

Pre-requisite
Communication within and outside
the risk team throughout the entire process

Rule of thumb in slope stability


from a retired, highly experienced geoscientist

All slopes that look like they are about


to fail will eventually fail.
All slopes that look stable will also
eventually fail.

An element of risk management


Stakeholder workshops and participatory processes to
involve the population exposed to landslide risk in
the decision-making process for choosing the most
appropriate risk mitigation measure(s).

Stakeholder processes for identifying


appropriate risk mitigation strategies
Goal
Learn how to convert scientific information about landslides
into actual policies and practices that will prevent and
mitigate risk.
What are the options available?
How expensive and effective are they?
What factors cause people to decide to act to mitigate and
prevent the risks?
How can alternative mitigation and prevention options be
ranked and communicated?
What processes are necessary to gain consensus in a
community and move towards effective action?

Participatory process in Italy


Working groups agreed on:
Warning system and creation of a territorial
survey-presidium
General preference for non structural rather
than structural risk mitigation measures
Observation: public does not rely on experts!

About
Participatory process
in Romania
Buiding of large mine tailings
dam in Transylvania in
Romania
Concerns:
dam breach and pollution from
escaping tailings

knes
10-14 mill. m3

30-40 mill. m3

People involved in participatory process in knes

manager for knes/Tafjord project


mayor of community
social scientist from community
city planner from community
policeman working on emergency
plans/evacuation
local politician
representative from community
journalist/media
officer from ministry of highways
directorate for safety and emergency
preparedness
risk analysis specialist

meteorologist
physical geographer
social geographer
geologist
engineering geologist
rock mechanics specialist
geotechnical engineer
tsunami specialist
instrumentation specialist
earthquake engineer
seismologist
mathematician
statistician

How much risk are we willing to accept?

Depends entirely
on whether the
situation is
voluntary or
imposed.

Risk perception
Low
sport activities

High
High

Traffic accidents

working accidents
Fires

Food safety

Transport of dangerous
goods

Flooding

Radiation
Max Geldens Stichting, 2002

Objective risk

Perceived risk

Low

How much risk is acceptable?

Landslide risk assesment


Requires a wide scientific background
and a team of specialists
The engineer, geologist and other scientists cannot
operate within their narrow spheres of expertise any
more, but rather we need to learn about and integrate
the softer sciences and perception by others in our
solutions.

What kind of multidisciplinarity?

Among geo-scientists, yes

Integrated geosciences
Geological model
- depositional climate
- age
- historic slide activity

Multibeam SWATH Bathymetry

f:\i\41\stab\overhead\2001\Terzaghi\Terzlect01.ppt

3D Seismics + HR 2D

Physical
model
for geohazards
assessment

Soil investigations
- field tests
- sampling
- lab. testing

Soil properties (K, G, e, vp, vs, su, etc.)


- effect of pore water pressure
- effect of gas and gas hydrates
- effect of temperature/pressure changes

What kind of multidisciplinarity?

Among geo-scientists, yes


but, more challenging, from the
engineering sciences to the
social and human sciences

Our professions role is to


provide to the decision-makers
What is the landslide risk?
Assess, compare and
quantify risk
How to reduce risk
Advice on how much risk
is acceptable or tolerable

Guatemala, 1976

Acceptable Societal Risk criteria in different countries


10-1

Annual probability

10-3

10-5

10-7

10-9

10-11
1

10

100

1000

10000

Expected number of fatalities


(Ref: Ken Ho 2009; Government of Hong Kong, CEDD, Geotechnical Engineering Office,)

Emerging issues
Experts acting alone cannot choose the most
appropriate" hazard or risk treatment method. A multidisciplinary approach is underlined by all United Nations
organizations working in this field.
Policy-makers recognize that traditional expert-based
decision-making processes are insufficient in
controversial risk contexts. The expert approach can
favour "objective" analyses, leading to decisions that lack
public acceptance.

Emerging issues
A deciding factor on whether an extreme event turns into a
disaster is the social vulnerability of the population at risk,
i.e. the capacity to prepare for, respond to and recover from
an extreme event.
Our profession needs to contribute to the prevention of
"events" turning into disasters:
hazards are mostly unavoidable, disasters are not.

Emerging issues requiring increased multidisciplinarity


Urbanisation and changes in demography are increasing the
exposure of vulnerable population.
Climate change is altering the geographic distribution,
frequency and intensity of hydro-meteorological hazards
such as rainfall-induced landslides and debris flows.

How to bring different groups together?


Hinge on the cultural shift with the younger
generation
Highly specialised young scientists embrace
more easily the value of interdisciplinary work

Experience from practice


We need to move from:
Acceptable and tolerable risk Guidelines
to
Public protection Guidelines

Experience from practice


Some criticize the use of engineering judgment
Uncertainty is at the heart of probability estimates. A
decision made in the face of uncertainty is a probabilistic
judgment, or if made by a knowledgeable person, an
expert judgment.
Expert judgments or think-tanks are commonly sought in
economic and political circles. Why not in an engineering
context?

To fullfill our role


enhanced multi-disciplinarity is required
We need enhanced capacity to address the risk posed to
society by landslides, and to assist the making of informed
decisions to reduce their impact.
Focus needs to shift from response-recovery towards
prevention-mitigation, building resilience and reducing risks,
learning from experience and avoiding past mistakes.
Faced with natural hazards, society's only recourse is to
learn to live with them. One can live with a hazard, provided
the risk is reduced to a tolerable level.
Our profession needs to be recognised for

"reducing risk and protecting people


(modified from HSE, UK)

f:\i\41\stab\overhead\2001\Terzaghi\Terzlect01.ppt

Thank you
for your attention!