PEAT LANDSLIDE HAZARD AND RISK ASSESSMENTS Best Practice Guide for Proposed Electricity Generation Developments

December 2006

PEAT LANDSLIDE HAZARD AND RISK ASSESSMENTS Best Practice Guide for Proposed Electricity Generation Developments

December 2006

© Crown copyright 2006 ISBN: 0-7559-6378-4 Scottish Executive St Andrew’s House Edinburgh EH1 3DG Produced for the Scottish Executive by Astron B49722 12/06 Published by the Scottish Executive, December, 2006 Further copies are available from Blackwell’s Bookshop 53 South Bridge Edinburgh EH1 1YS 100% of this document is printed on recycled paper and is 100% recyclable.

7 Developer Design Team 1.1 Overview 3.1 . hazard ranking and reporting requirements 29 Overview 5.2 Preparatory factors for peat instability 2.3 Hazard and risk ranking 5.2 Guidance objectives 1.3 Context 1.1 Purpose 1.8 Checklist for peat landslide hazard assessment An overview of peat landslide mechanisms 2.2 Geomorphological mapping 4.5 Information Requirement 1.4 Intrusive investigation techniques 4.7 Site instrumentation and monitoring regimes 1 1 1-2 3 3 4 6 6-7 8 8 9 10 11 15 15 15 18 21 21 21 22 24 26 26 28 2 3 4 5 Stability assessment.3 Field sampling 4.4 Pre-failure indicators of instability Desk Study 3.2 Review of existing site information 3.6 Laboratory testing schedule 4.1 Mechanisms and morphology of peat landslides 2.3 Site reconnaissance survey Ground investigation and design 4.4 Quantitative Risk Assessment (QRA) 29 29 31 33 5.1 Objectives 4.4 Scope of document 1.3 Triggering factors 2.6 ECU Assessment Services 1.2 Slope stability analyses 5.Contents 1 Introduction 1.5 Non-intrusive (geophysical) techniques 4.

Flow diagram checklist for peat landslide hazard assessment Figure 3.1.1. Hazard Ranking and suggested actions 16 32 32 33 List of Figures Figure 1.5. Qualitative assessment of peat landslide Exposure for the lifetime of the development Table 5. Scotland. showing peat stratigraphy.2.1. Results of a GPR Survey.3.2. showing a horizontally stratified sequences (verified by drilling and trial pitting) . Scotland. Balance of slope forces Figure 5. Flow diagram. Qualitative Hazard Ranking methodology Figure B.1. Qualitative assessment of peat landslide Hazard for the lifetime of the development Table 5. resistivity ® and P-wave Seismic Figure B. Recommended sources of mapping Table 5. Farr Wind Farm. Fibrous peat overlies amorphous peat (yellow line) which in turn overlies compacted glacial till (red line) Figure B. Results and interpretation of resistivity and P-wave seismic geophysical survey undertaken at Farr Wind Farm.1. indicating requirement for detailed ground investigation Figure 5.7 5.3.6 5. Plan showing the location of geophysical traverses on a proposed turbine base the Farr Wind Farm.8 6 Mitigation Reporting Further reading Acknowledgements 34 36 38 39 40 References List of Tables Table 3. These included Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR).

a spreading failure in peat with pear shaped area of disturbance with concentric rafts and tears and little substrate exposed Plate 2. Bog burst. Site monitoring instrumentation . Sources of satellite imagery Appendix B.6.2. A section of thrusted peat Plate 2. Extrusion features Plate 2.List of Plates Plate Compression ridge Plate 2.11. Pipe outlet in exposed peat scarp Plate 2. Long and semi-continuous tension crack Plate 2.8.Gullies.3. Geophysical survey techniques Appendix C.Flushes and soakaway Appendices Appendix A.10 Collapsed piping Plate 2. Peat slide. a shallow translational slide failure in peat with large slab-shaped raft visible (right) and extensive exposed substrate (left) Plate 2. Diamond shaped tears Plate 2. Multiple intersecting cracks Plate 2.9.12. and pools and hummocks Plate 2.


mitigating and managing peat slide hazards and their associated risks. there is a greater focus on peat hazard risk assessment in considering future section 36 applications seeking consent under the Electricity Act 1989. Blanket bog. 1 . particularly in the uplands. directly or indirectly. and is the one most commonly affected by electricity generation developments. raised bogs. 1. raised bog and some types of fen are on Annex 1 of the EC Habitats Directive and all are the subject of Habitat Action Plans (HAPs) under the UKBAP. Provide guidance on the required scope of any preliminary site investigations for proposed electricity generation developments. intermediate bogs and fens are also sometimes affected.1 Introduction Purpose In the wake of widely reported peat slide incidents and the increasing number of on-shore wind farms being developed. All of these habitats are of high value for nature conservation due to their rarity and/or vulnerability and all are particularly susceptible to changes to their hydrology.1 1.2 Guidance Objectives The objectives of this guidance are to: • • • • Promote best practice and raise awareness of potential peat landslide hazards and their associated risks. and Provide advice on potential mitigation options for detailed feasibility assessment in the planning of upland electricity generation developments in order to reduce peat landslide hazard and risk.3 Context Blanket bog is the most widespread peatland type in Scotland. This guidance has been developed to provide best practice information on the methods for identifying. However. 1. Provide guidance in identifying potential upland peat landslide hazard and risk prior to and during the planning of upland developments.

In addition. Just as wind farms and their associated infrastructure may be affected by or cause peat landslides. peat has special hydrological properties (90% water content). 1999. previous investigations have illustrated that the geotechnical controls of peat landslides are distinct to organic soils (dry peat is typically 90% -95% organic matter) and that pre-conditions for failure are not well accounted for by site investigation methods detailed in existing documentation. Typically. 1990. flood defences. other infrastructure such as road networks. However. slope instability and landslide hazard assessments have followed a standard approach. applications for which are often concentrated in upland and peat covered areas. Failures initiate by sliding and may degenerate into peaty flows of debris before becoming incorporated in stream channels as peaty debris floods. in all their decisions. which include no loss of current habitat extent and an improvement in the condition of what remains. and aquatic habitats damaged by impingement of landslide debris on watercourses. 1986. residential areas and farmland may also be affected.g. 1996). to have regard to this Strategy. the high environmental value afforded to peat uplands requires that the benefits of wind farm developments are evaluated against their potential negative consequences for local peat areas and their often diverse and unique habitats. 1987). are seen by many as the means by which carbon emissions and the UK’s reliance on fossil and nuclear fuels might be reduced. Peat landslides are a characteristic landscape response in peat uplands to intense rainfall events. the displacement and break-up of peaty debris after a landslide event will ultimately result in small scale depletion of the terrestrial carbon store. drainage. it has a very low density and is often very fibrous in nature (Hobbs. Terrestrial habitats in the path of a peat landslide may be damaged by ground displacement and by burial by debris.The Scottish Biodiversity Strategy adopts the UK HAP targets. 2 . Wind farms. However. For example. supplementary guidance is required to ensure that accurate and realistic peat slide hazard and risk assessments can be undertaken during the planning of upland electricity generation developments such as wind farms. power lines. Therefore. detailed in a number of statutory and guidance documents (e. The importance of understanding peat landslide mechanisms and the potential for their occurrence has increased as pressure for renewable energy technologies and development sites in peatlands has increased. DoE. the Scottish Executive and planning authorities are required. Under terms of Section 1 of the Nature of Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004. BS5930.

"Content of an Environmental Statement". This includes geotechnical risk management as discussed in the joint publication by The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and the Department of the Environment and the Transport Regions (DETR) publication "Managing Geotechnical Risk (Improving Productivity in UK building and construction). design and size of the development.5 Information Requirement At the project level. • • 3 . large engineering projects involving peat should be planned and carried out using national best practice. reduce and. A description of the development comprising information on the site. These Regulations are intended to cover all aspects of an EIA. suitable intrusive and non-intrusive methods of ground investigation.4 Scope of document This document provides guidance on: • • • • identifying existing. A description of the measures envisaged in order to avoid. the management and mitigation of potential peat landslide hazard and risk to electricity generation development sites. remedy significant adverse effects. The Energy Consents Unit (ECU) looks for a peat stability risk assessment that addresses the guidelines of The Electricity Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations. if possible. Schedule 4. potential and construction induced peat landslide hazards. Part II of these regulations sets out very reasonable requirements of what a peat stability assessment should address: • The data required to identify and assess the main effects the development is likely to have on the environment. 1. suitable methods for assessing peat landslide hazard and associated risk.1.

complexity. peat sampling and analytical methods have been employed to provide a sound basis for assessing peat stability and the risk of peat landslides. 4 . analysed and presented.6 ECU Assessment Services Most Section 36 applications will be assessed for the risk of a peat landslide incident. 1. For example if a developer’s site investigation/survey. ECU acknowledge that in complex cases. and topography of each development site. The site visit will help the appointed assessor to prepare a written report for the ECU. then it is expected the submitted information will include detailed mitigation measures. identifies any area of high or medium risk of peat landslide incident.The ECU expects developers to demonstrate that site specific peat stability information has been properly recorded. Each report will include a summary of the findings. The report will confirm whether or not adequate and appropriate field survey. The peat landslide hazard report is made by the developer as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment and will be assessed on behalf of the ECU by their appointed assessor. complete with recommendations. The assessment will be produced following a site visit which will be arranged through the developer. complete with recommendations. but preferably confined to this guidance. that brings those high and medium areas into the low category of risk. some iteration may be necessary to resolve technical aspects of the proposals. The ECU assessment reports will be succinct and focused on analysis rather than description and will provide clear and justified conclusions. The methods adopted by the developer are discretionary. and will be presented within 1 month of receipt of the submitted site information. The scope of each assessment report will be relative to the scale.

acting on behalf of the Executive. Sample analysis. Sampling equipment and strategy. Summary of requirements. References used. The assessment report will take account of the following work areas: • • • • • • • • • • Schedule of work. directly to the ECU and not to the assessment contractor. Techniques and methodology. any system that treats geotechnical risk management in a reasonable fashion. 5 . Site selection. Risk assessment/register. Developers should note the Scottish Executive has employed the peat risk assessment services under contract. Refer to section 5. Developers are asked to submit responses to the assessment reports. in order to reduce costs and to discuss and clarify further information requirements and/or agree technical solutions. and comment on. The ECU will appraise the assessment reports and issue them to each developer.6 Reporting (page 36) for further information.The assessor can make recommendations to the ECU that further data is required or that the risk remains too high and is therefore not suitable for construction. Recommendations on mitigation measures. It is accepted that the developer must be permitted to make the decision on what data collection systems are to be used on a particular development and for this reason ECU is prepared to review. Proposals for further investigation. ECU staff can consider brokering one-to-one dialogue between the assessment contractor and the developer.

through detailed site investigation and on to quantitative risk assessment (QRA). peat hydrogeology and ecology. 1. assessments of peat landslide hazard and risk require a competent.7 Developer Design Team Detailed assessments of peat landslide hazard as a precursor to risk assessment require an understanding of geology. CIWEM. 6 . CGeol. supported by an initial site reconnaissance survey provides a basis for a first pass assessment of potential peat landslide hazards. Accordingly. These team members should be chartered (CEng. Ecologist. Engineering geomorphologist.8 Checklist for peat landslide hazard assessment Figure 1. a desk study. This provides a clear route from initial desk study and site reconnaissance. specifically in peatland environments.1. Once the area of interest has been identified. Geotechnical engineer. Hydrogeologist/hydrologist. MICE or equivalent) with demonstrable experience in managing geotechnical risk and undertaking upland geohazard assessments and/or surveys. multidisciplinary team comprising at least three of the following: (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) Engineering geologist. and the geotechnical qualities of peat and the underlying materials.1 provides a flow diagram checklist for peat landslide hazard assessment.

after the desk study stage only minimal peat cover is identified. This is followed by detailed guidance on preparation of a front-end desk-study and accompanying site reconnaissance survey.1. if. The structure of this document follows the hazard assessment process delineated in Figure 1. and an overview of the recommended approach to hazard and risk assessment. 7 . guidance follows for detailed specification of a targeted site investigation to better quantify and provide mitigation for peat landslide risks.Should the site indicate potential for peat landslide hazard. Exit points from the hazard and risk assessment process are provided at appropriate stages. A brief review of peat landslide mechanisms and indicators follows to provide context for those unfamiliar with peat landslide hazards. the option to exit the hazard assessment process is made available. criteria for detailed site investigation thereafter. For example.

1 and 2. The term ‘bog burst’ has been used to describe particularly fluid failures involving rupture of the peat blanket surface or margin due to subsurface creep or swelling. Longer term processes of degradation include incision and upslope extension of gully networks by water action (Evans and Warburton. A great majority of recorded peat landslides in Scotland. below this interface.2 An overview of peat landslide mechanisms Mechanisms and morphology of peat landslides Peat landslides represent one end of a spectrum of natural processes of peat degradation. Bowes. or more rarely within the peat body (Warburton et al. 1988) with a shear failure mechanism operating within a discrete shear plane at the peat-substrate interface. 2005). Bog bursts correspond in appearance and mechanism to 2. Human activity. farming (grazing).1 8 . Peat slides correspond in appearance and mechanism to translational landslides (DoE. development of subsurface piping creating extensive sub-surface voids (Holden.2). 2004). England and Wales are of the peat slide type. 2004. The term ‘peat slide’ is generally used to describe slab-like shallow translational failures (Hutchinson. and without necessarily a clear scar margin. there is usually a block and slurry runout zone. and structural damage caused by burning of frost action. 1996) and tend to occur in shallow peat (up to 2. in press). 1960). desiccation cracking and wind erosion (deflation) of the top surface of peat deposits (Evans and Warburton. including burning. 1992). arranged in concentric tears and rafts. All of these processes may result in damage to peatland habitats.. which globally represents some 30% of the carbon stored in world soils (Immirzi et al.0m) on steeper slopes (5 to 15°). potential losses in biodiversity and depletion of the peatland carbon store. Rapid remoulding during transport may lead to the generation of an organic slurry in which blocks are transported. with liquefied basal material expelled through surface tears followed by settlement of the overlying mass (Hemingway and Sledge. with little substrate revealed. 2005). Downslope of the area of subsidence. afforestation and construction may also act to damage the peat resource. 1941-46. Two broad groups of peat landslide are reported (Plates 2. They are characterised by pear shaped areas of disturbed (often sunken) blanket bog. The peat surface may break up into large rafts and smaller blocks which are transported down slope mainly by sliding. similar in appearance to that associated with peat slides.

Therefore. Triggering factors change the state of the slope from marginally stable to unstable and can be considered as the ‘cause’ of failure (DoE.5m) on shallow slopes (2 to 10°) where deeper peat deposits are more likely to be found (Mills. Reports of bog burst failures are generally restricted to Ireland and Northern Ireland. These preparatory and triggering factors are described below. A number of hydrological and geomorphological preparatory factors operate in peatlands which act to make peat slopes increasingly susceptible to failure without necessarily initiating failure. Increase in mass of the peat slope through increases in water content. chemical or physical weathering or clay dispersal in the substrate. The resultant ‘soils’ are composed of vegetative matter in various states of decomposition rather than mineral particles.2 Preparatory factors for peat instability The following are some of the factors which operate to reduce the stability of peat slopes in the medium to long-term (tens to hundreds of years): (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) Increase in mass of the peat slope through progressive vertical accumulation (peat formation). 1999) and tend to occur in deeper peat (greater than 1. Loss of surface vegetation and associated tensile strength. conventional geotechnical approaches to mineral soil analysis are poorly tested with respect to peat. and Increase in buoyancy of the peat slope through formation of subsurface pools or water-filled pipe networks. 2002). Changes in the water table govern rates of organic matter decay. 9 . 1999). Peat soils accumulate over thousands of years under generally wet and cool climatic conditions. and the use of slope stability analyses to predict realistic ‘Factors of Safety’ requires correspondingly greater understanding of site-specific controls.spreading failures (DoE. Hence there is some degree of overlap in processes and mechanisms between different landslide types. There is considerable natural variability in movement types and complex failures may result where the geotechnical properties of the peat vary. 2. Reduction in shear strength of peat or substrate from changes in physical structure caused by progressive creep and vertical fracturing (tension cracking).

and Loading of the peat mass by landslide debris causing an increase in shear stress. Triggering factors may be natural or anthropogenic and can result in either peat slides or bog bursts dependent upon peat characteristics and topography at a particular site. Snow melt causing development of high pore-water pressures. 10 .The impacts of factors (i) and (ii) are poorly understood. which may be slow to rapid movements and spatially extensive or relatively limited in extent with associated implications for their impacts.3 Triggering factors Triggering factors act to initiate slope failures. Factors (i) and (ii) are most frequently reported for peat mass movements in the UK. but the formation of tension cracks and pipe networks have been noted in association with many recorded failures. at the discontinuity between peat and substrate). as above. Rapid ground accelerations (earthquakes) causing a decrease in shear strength. Natural triggers are reported as follows: (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) Intense rainfall causing development of transient high pore-water pressures along pre-existing or potential rupture surfaces (e. human induced) triggers include some of the following: (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) Alteration to drainage pattern focussing drainage and generating high pore-water pressures along pre-existing or potential rupture surfaces (e. Anthropogenic (i. Rapid ground accelerations (blasting or mechanical vibrations) causing an increase in shear stresses. structures or overburden causing an increase in shear stress. Unloading of the peat mass by cutting of peat at the toe of a slope reducing support to the upslope material.g.g. reducing support to the upslope material. Unloading of the peat mass by fluvial incision of a peat slope at its toe.e. at the discontinuity between peat and substrate). as described below. 2. Loading of the peat mass by heavy plant. Long-term reductions in slope stability contribute to slope failure when triggering factors operate on susceptible slopes.

and may occur during building. reducing water held in the peat body. 2. reducing tensile strength in the upper layers of the peat body. Presence of features indicative of tension. The following critical features are indicative of potential failure in peat environments: • • • • • • • • • Presence of historical and recent failure scars and debris. farming or mining (including subsidence). Presence of seeps and springs. Presence of features indicative of compression. some cannot. Each of these indicators is considered below with illustrative plates to guide recognition during site visits. The nature and signs of instability often differ depending on the type and scale of failure. Evidence of ‘peat creep’. sites that have experienced landslides apparently without warning could often have been identified as susceptible to failure by a suitably trained person or through relatively inexpensive monitoring strategies. Afforestation of peat areas. 11 . heaving grazing or stripping of the surface peat cover. Presence of clay with organic staining at the peat and (weathered) bedrock interface.(v) (vi) (vii) Digging and tipping. In many cases. Presence of cracking related to drying/drainage.4 Pre-failure indicators of instability The presence of preparatory or preconditioning factors. and increasing potential for formation of desiccation cracks which are exploited by rainfall on forest harvesting. and Changes in vegetation cover caused by burning. Concentration of surface drainage networks. For these reasons it is essential to identify and select a location for the development and associated infrastructure that avoids or minimises the impact of the development. engineering. are often indicated by ground conditions that can be mapped or measured remotely or by a site visit. prior to failure. and while some anthropogenic factors can be mitigated. Natural factors are difficult to control. which may undermine or load the peat mass respectively. Presence of subsurface drainage networks or water bodies.

where a bare substrate has been revealed by sliding. Evidence of peat creep Tension and compression features are often associated with creep of the peat blanket on a slope. spatial clustering of peat landslides. Concentric tiers of arcuate tension cracks may indicate local displacement. a full vegetation cover may take 30-40 years to develop. Tension features may include tension cracks.5).4. shallow tears.7) or extrusion features (Plate 2.4.1 and 2.3 2. separated in occurrence by many years. Presence of features indicative of compression Compression features usually indicate displacement upslope which has resulted in the formation of ridges (Plate 2. which are narrow and deep fissures.4.4 12 .8).3). However. thrusts (Plate 2. 2. At the surface such movements can be detected by displacement of walls and boundaries and tilting of fences and posts. Although reactivation of the debris or peat surrounding landslide scars has rarely been noted in the published literature.2 illustrate typical peatland morphology associated with historical failure sites. tension features will be visible at the upslope limit of peat displacement. With increasing time since failure. has been identified on several occasions. Plates 2. 2. the existence of a peat landslide scar in a development area provides a strong indicator of potential future peat landslide hazard.2. exposed scars will re-vegetate.2 Presence of features indicative of tension Surface or deeper tension cracking may indicate an accumulation of stress in peat soils as well as generation of surface-to-subsurface pathways for rapid infiltration of water and generation of excess pore-water pressures at depth.6). Zones of tension are often juxtaposed with compression ridges in response to creep of the peat mass and changes in local slope gradient.4). while multiple intersecting cracks may be a precursor to fragmentation of the peat into rafts or blocks (Plate 2. and which may be continuous or discontinuous for several tens of metres (Plate 2. Therefore.1 Presence of historical and recent failure scars and debris The presence of existing landslide scars in a development area may indicate local site conditions conducive to future peat landslide activity. which are wider and shallower ‘diamond’ shapes may indicate tension at the surface only (Plate 2.4. Often. frequently infilled with water. Alternatively.

12).4. Ground Penetrating Radar (Holden. a pipe ceiling may collapse. 2005). Large fluctuations in rainfall may increase the rate of groundwater discharges and if this occurs following a period of drought there is an increased risk that peat landslides may be induced. Larger subsurface water bodies.8 13 .2. during an intense rainstorm.11) or flushes / soakaways (Plate 2. with pipes tending to be more prevalent at hillslope summits and footslopes and in areas of peatland subject to moorland gripping (Holden.4.4. can be identified by ‘trembling’ at the peat surface when the surface is walked over (although this is not advisable). their size and extent can be ascertained through non-intrusive ground investigation e. Concentration of surface drainage networks. Such pipe drainage networks (Plate 2. e.g. 2004. 2. Evidence of drainage outlets should also be noted as these usually indicate a well-developed subsurface pipe network. providing pathways for rapid infiltration of water to horizons at depth within the peat mass. Concentration of runoff by artificial drainage networks should be noted especially where the drainage density is greatly increased or runoff is delivered to steep peat-covered hillslopes.9) can often only be identified on-site by the sound of running water beneath the surface.10).4. Surface drainage pathways also provide a means of supplying water to a susceptible peat area. Continued supply of water (without release) to a subsurface water body may cause visible swelling of the peat mass over periods ranging from a few hours to several months.7 2. 2. 2004). and are generally manifest in peat as gullies (Plate 2. Soil piping is widespread in upland blanket peat catchments in the UK. formed where pipes have become blocked or where spring lines are incident below the surface. leaving a hole in the peat surface (Plate 2. If pipe networks are identified. The presence of sediment discharged at pipe outlets often indicates a deep subsurface drainage net with periodically high water pressures.g.6 Presence of seeps and springs Groundwater seeps and springs are controlled by seasonal rainfall. Presence of cracking related to drying Drying of peat caused by periods of drought or by drainage (natural or man-made) may also cause cracking. Rarely.5 Presence of subsurface drainage networks or water bodies Subsurface drainage pathways indicate potential for generation of high transient pore-water pressures under conditions of enhanced water supply.

in isolation. 14 . indicate future potential for peat landslides to occur.4.Any of the indicators described in 2. 2. sometimes no more than 100-200mm in thickness.9 Presence of clay with organic staining at the base of the peat In parts of the Pennines and Scotland.1 to 2. Combinations of these features may be indicative of more imminent failure. the base of blanket peat may be underlain by clay with organic staining.4. These clay layers have been observed to provide a failure surface for detachment and subsequent sliding of the peat along the bedrock interface or underlying superficial deposits.4.8 may.

and 15 . specifically the regional field guide relevant to the site in question.2 Review of existing site information The extent of the development site should be clearly identified at the outset of the study.1 Sources of site information Currently available sources of information to be considered may include. The scope of a site investigation for clarification of peat landslide hazard may be considerably reduced if sufficient attention is given to this front-end activity. Refer to Figure 1. Academic literature and publications about the site.3 3. This provides a cost-effective front-end means of identifying site factors conducive to peat instability and should act as a framework for specifying targeted site investigation in the event that significant indicators of instability are identified.1. The time spent in data collection and review should reflect the nature and scale of the investigation and the volume of information available for the site. 3. and illustrated with adjacent land down-slope and up-slope of the site on maps and plans prepared in the desk study document. British Geological Survey publications on superficial deposits. 3. all development sites should be subject to a front end desk-study. feasibility reports. Geological information. comprising two main components: (i) (ii) Review of existing site information. Newspaper archives. among others: (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f) Previous site information including technical reports. and Site reconnaissance to verify assertions made in the review.2. previous ground investigation information and Envirocheck reports. Soil Survey of Scotland (Macaulay Institute) Soil Memoirs.1 Desk Study Overview In order to identify peat landslide hazard potential. appropriate efforts should be made to collect any and all relevant information relating to the site. Once the site extent has been identified.


Local knowledge from landowners, farmers and local residents about the site.

a) to d) provide fundamental site information of relevance to not only peat landslide hazard assessments, but of value in later stages of geotechnical design if and when consent has been granted. These should be considered essential sources for the front end desk study. e) to g) provide additional information and are often particularly informative where a history of instability at a development site has already been recognised by landowners, researchers or has been recorded by the local press. It should be noted that maps indicating peat cover should not be taken as definitive statements on its presence or absence. The depth and extent of peat deposits may vary sharply over short distances as a function of local underlying geology, past and ongoing geomorphological activity and management history. It is for this reason that desk-study must be informed by site reconnaissance survey, to ensure that existing information is robust and reliable. 3.2.2 Sources of mapping data Several sources of mapping data may be of use in conducting peat landslide hazard assessments, some of these are summarised in Table 3.1 below.
Ordnance Survey LandLine data or 1:10000 to 1:25000 digital raster tiles Landmark mapping data historical

Description and Purpose
To be used for base mapping in a Geographical Information System (e.g. ESRI ArcView, MapInfo) and therefore preferably provided in a digital format

British Geological Survey geological maps and/or 1:10000 to 1:25000 digital raster tiles

Macaulay Institute soils maps at 1:250000 scale

To be overlain on existing Ordnance Survey mapping to identify long term changes in ground conditions at a site, and therefore preferably supplied in digital format To be overlain on existing Ordnance Survey mapping to identify extent and character of solid and drift geology, and in particular the location of impermeable rocks or till, preferably supplied in digital format.. Digital BGS data is required for Geographical information systems although paper 1:10,000 mapping may be more appropriate for a detailed desk study. To be digitised from hard copy and overlain on existing Ordnance Survey mapping to indicate ‘soil’ characteristics, including: presence of peat and runoff potential.

Table 3.1 Recommended sources of mapping



Sourcing and interpretation of historical and contemporary aerial photographs Ortho-rectified digital aerial photography for much of the UK is now available from GetMappingTM, sorties having been undertaken in 1999, 2000 and 2005. Unfortunately , coverage in Scotland is not complete, but where available provides good quality images of recent ground conditions and should be used as follows: • • • Identify the presence of existing failure scars and debris runout; Identify pre-conditioning factors for failure (where visible at the resolution of the photography); Identify evidence of other pre-development ground conditions of relevance to ground works but not exclusively associated with landslides, including vegetation cover, drainage regime and dominant drainage pathways; and Identify evidence for land management practices with the potential to influence ground conditions (e.g. burning, artificial drainage, peat cutting).

At the time of writing, on-line interactive programs such as Google EarthTM and provide useful and free sources of aerial photography from which gross changes in peatland morphology can be identified. In some parts of Scotland, the quality of coverage on Google EarthTM is sufficiently resolute to identify historical peat landslide scars without the need to purchase aerial photography exclusively for this purpose. 3.2.4 Use of digital topographic datasets Digital elevation models (DEMs) compiled from radar-derived aerial surveys can provide detailed information on site topography including elevation, slope angle and slope aspect. These data should be used as follows: • To characterise the overall site relief (e.g. steep with pronounced convex slopes; gentle and undulating) and identify topographic controls on drainage (e.g. hillslope summits and footslopes, major catchments, subcatchments and gullies); To classify the site into slope classes (e.g. 0-5°, 5-10°) on the basis that certain slope ranges may be more or less susceptible to specific failure mechanisms (section 2.1); and To identify north and south-facing slopes on the basis that slopes with differing aspects may have differing hydrological characteristics in relation to sun exposure (e.g. rates of snow melt).


Digital topographic datasets in the UK are increasingly available from a variety of suppliers, or can be flown by commission if required. Datasets are normally georeferenced and can be layered in a GIS with the mapping datasets described previously. 3.2.5 Remote sensing data and satellite imagery Data collected by remote sensing includes aerial photographs, digital topographic datasets (e.g. from NextMAP) and multispectral datasets illustrating ground conditions (e.g. moisture content). Until recently, earth observation applications to peat landslide investigations have relied upon the interpretation of aerial photographs. Satellite imagery has lacked the spatial resolution to provide detailed images at the scale of an individual landslide. However, a new generation of satellite and airborne technology offers opportunities to investigate and map individual peat landslides, or terrain susceptible to peat landslides to a scale of 1:2000, or greater. The main satellite and aerial imagery sources which may be applicable to landslide investigations are summarised below and covered in more detail in Appendix A: • • • • Optical satellite imagery (Landsat thematic mapper): for identification of flow tracks, ground fissures and subtleties in peat morphology; Microwave (Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry, InSAR): for vegetation type, moisture content and collation of digital elevation models; Multispectral video: for mapping of groundwater systems; and Hyperspectral scanners: mapping of geological units in areas of poor exposure using soil moisture content as a proxy, estimation of soil thicknesses prone to landsliding.

Where pre-existing datasets are available, these can be of value in understanding site conditions. However, commissioning of such datasets for a single scheme would normally be considered cost prohibitive.


Site reconnaissance survey
Site reconnaissance survey can provide a rapid means of identifying the required scope for further ground investigation. If overall site characteristics do not appear to correspond to those associated with peat landslides, and if there has been no previous history or evidence of failures, the extent to which peat landslide hazard governs future ground investigation may be significantly reduced.


g. Logging can be undertaken on-site or samples removed from the site and logged remotely. The hydrology of the site should be recorded and map where possible in including any evidence of surface and subsurface drainage pathways and the depth of water strikes encountered during peat probing. 1986). Features identified from aerial photographs and verified during walkover and additional features noted during survey should be recorded to produce a summary plan in map form for subsequent and more detailed investigation.g. and Climate and hydrology: the date of the survey and the general weather conditions should be recorded during the site visit.1 Purpose of reconnaissance survey Preliminary site reconnaissance should comprise inspection of the site ground conditions to produce an initial interpretation of the site in the context of the surrounding environment.3. a preliminary understanding of peat characteristics and the nature of the peat-substrate interface should be gained by probing and by retrieving cored samples using hand coring techniques. this should be undertaken subsequent to the review of aerial photographs of the site (see previous chapter). Ideally. mosses. Samples should be collected across the development site and the number and distribution of samples should reflect the following factors: (a) Topography: peat depths are likely to be shallower on steeper slopes. During site walkover. Peat depths should be probed using either a hand auger. and depths of changes in strata should be logged and recorded. All materials encountered. Harder substrates (bedrock) will not yield materials. Vegetation: the physical characteristics of peat will vary according to their hydrological setting. but this lack of retrieval will still provide information on the nature of the interface. Softer-substrates (e. Land management: peat will also vary according to local land management practices. with the reconnaissance site-walkover survey acting to ground truth key features identified on aerial photographs and/or maps. gouge or ‘Russian’ type hand-driven corer (Aaby and Berglund.3. with peat that has been subject to burning. draining or cutting exhibiting differing characteristics to adjacent undisturbed peat. (b) (c) (d) 19 . heathers. grasses). usually reflected in surface vegetation. samples should be taken to reflect the range of major vegetation types (e. soft clays) may also be retrieved and indicate the nature of the peat-substrate contact. and therefore sufficient samples/probes should be taken to reflect the range of slope angles identified over the development site.

2 Extent of survey The debris from peat landslides may extend from very short distances on shallow slopes. should it be required. sufficient information should be available to summarise the status of key controls and indicators of peat instability at a site. the point of impact may be some distance from the location of the peat landslide scar. slope configuration. Consequently. streams or rivers. according to catchment size.3.(e) Proposed infrastructure: if known. based upon simple summary assessments of the presence of peat. Figure 3. 3. and the possibility of construction induced instability. etc) should guide selection of locations for peat sampling. the planned location of infrastructure (roads. The competent person(s) should justify the extent of reconnaissance survey on this basis. Dynamic probing can also be used to provide information on peat depth and variability in strength with depth through the stratigraphy. the topography of the site. The extent of the survey area will therefore be unique for each development.3 20 . an early exit from the peat landslide hazard assessment is available. 3. it may travel for kilometres as part of a peaty debris flood. or if engineering works are planned away from peat areas that display only minimal indicators of potential instability.3.1 provides simple criteria for identifying the need for further investigation with respect to peat landslide hazard at a development site. If little or no peat is present. Assuming that sample sites are representative. The responsibility for determining the number and location of sample sites lies with the competent person(s) identified in section 1. the presence of stream channels. Assessment criteria are listed at five decision levels. Review of project status Upon completion of the front-end desk study and site reconnaissance survey. If debris runs out into gullies. the presence of prior instability or of features indicative of instability. turbines.7. these preliminary results will provide a useful basis for more detailed specification of ground investigation. the position of adjacent infrastructure and the development location. although it should be noted that the infrastructure layout may be subject to change pending the results of the peat landslide hazard investigation. to several hundreds of metres over steepening convex valley sides.

Identify areas more and less suitable for ground engineering at the site. The objectives of a ground investigation to assess potential peat landslide hazards are to: • • • • Reduce uncertainties about ground conditions at the site. 4.2 Geomorphological mapping Geomorphological mapping of the site should be conducted to produce an accurate record of slope morphology and of salient geological and geomorphological features. and Site instrumentation and monitoring. It does not cover the standard geotechnical investigations required for development planning. Two approaches to geomorphological mapping are available: 21 . Provide information suitable for engineering design to mitigate any potential peat landslide hazard. Laboratory testing of sampled materials. The key components of each of these stages are outlined below.1 Ground investigation and design Objectives The key objectives of any ground investigation are to obtain reliable information to produce an economical and safe design.4 4.g. BS5930. to assess any hazards associated with ground conditions. Field sampling of surface and subsurface materials. Detailed ground investigation should be carried out in the following stages: (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) Detailed geomorphological mapping. and Minimise any peat landslide hazard associated with ground engineering for the development. and to meet tender and construction requirements (BS5930. 1999) and for which additional ground investigation may be required. for which standards exist (e. 1999). This chapter recommends ground investigation techniques for the clarification of peat landslide hazards at a development site containing peat.

from which large-scale geomorphological features may be interpreted.e.3 4. a detailed ground investigation should be undertaken providing sufficient information to: 22 . and field sampling and laboratory testing specified to assemble appropriate ground models and reduce uncertainties in knowledge of ground behaviour at the site. and is often difficult to apply to peat environments. then data from field maps can be digitised and displayed in GIS to provide a detailed map of historical and contemporary indicators of peat instability. 4. Mapping of location and extent of existing peat landslides (scar areas and deposit extent) and of the indicator features described in section 2. including peat landslides themselves. and their knowledge and experience of identifying and recording accurately features specifically associated with peat instability. It is advised that in most cases both mapping techniques will be required to produce accurate records of the site morphology. geology and landform features. it is best suited to large-scale and often deep-seated features of instability. mapped features are drawn directly onto photographs or basemaps). However.4.3. and is used extensively in mapping of deep-seated landslide systems to delimit slump blocks. Approach (i) is a robust and methodical technique for characterising slope form. Good examples of the mapping of peat landslide morphology can be found in Higgitt and Warburton (1999) and Wilson and Hegarty (1993). Approach (ii) relies upon the skill of the interpreter in the field.(i) (ii) Morphological mapping of breaks in slope and slope angles.1 Field sampling Strategy The selected field sampling strategy should logically follow the findings of site reconnaissance and geomorphological mapping and reflect the nature and extent of the proposed construction works. Critical areas can be identified from these maps. For sites where hazards or potential hazards have been identified. lobate deposits and landslide scarps. Good examples of geomorphological maps derived from morphological mapping are provided in Brunsden and Jones (1972) and Cooke and Doornkamp (1990). Assuming that either technique is rigorously applied and spatially referenced (i.

site materials should be returned to their point of origin. GPR. Where practicable.2 Selection of appropriate site plant and safe working practice In planning any investigation. Any investigation should. in the first instance. consider the results of the desk study to minimise the impact of subsequent investigation techniques on any of the peat slide hazards identified at the site.3. transects. where available. and this will depend upon the size and variability of the development site. section 4. Similarly the potential implications of the works in causing peat landslide hazards should be considered during the planning and design of any ground investigation. Develop an accurate ground model that reflects the ground conditions and hydrogeology of the site.g.(i) (ii) (iii) (iv) Characterise ground conditions through sampling of in-situ materials and laboratory testing. Characterise hydrological and groundwater conditions and timedependent behaviour through instrumentation and monitoring. cutting of peat slope toes should be avoided to minimise the risk of destabilising the slope above the cut. particular attention should be paid to the safety of personnel and the public at all stages of the investigation. Where intrusive methods are used. The implications of specific methods and their associated risk to workers and the public should be considered and accounted for during the fieldwork layout design. grids. The competent person(s) are responsible for identifying and justifying the numbers. Where tracks for plant or site access (as part of the investigation) are required. loading of peat slopes by plant at the slope crest should be avoided to minimise the risk of destabilising the slope below. lightweight plant (small bucket diggers) and vehicles (e. Accordingly. non-intrusive survey methods (e. For example. In many cases. As detailed previously for the reconnaissance stage. the sampling strategy should reflect the range of peat depths. quad-bikes and 23 .g. and Conduct stability analysis to verify or falsify hypothesised failure mechanisms and scenarios of peat landslide failure at the site. locations and types of sample collected. the investigation methods used should have a minimal impact on the site. Similarly. 4.5) should be used in preference to intrusive methods for identifying peat depths. hydrogeological conditions and topography of the development site. random or targeted sampling strategies may be appropriate. and surface vegetation cover re-laid to promote rapid recovery of the peat surface and minimise degradation.

six-wheel buggies) should be adequate for ground investigation in shallow to moderate depth peat (up to 2m deep). Depths greater than 2m can be achieved using hand corers. Peat cores may be extracted using hand ‘screw’ augers.3. In these circumstances specific consideration should be given to the associated Heath and Safety aspects of working in confined spaces. Detailed methods for shallow and deep trial pitting are discussed in detail in BS5930 (1999). A suitable combination of trial pits. Trial pits Trial pits provide an opportunity to log continuous sections of peat stratigraphy and extract representative. Further details on the safety consideration for 4. undisturbed block samples for subsequent laboratory testing. leaving only a small hole which can be easily backfilled. Minimally intrusive techniques (hand augering and coring) The layering and characteristics of the peat stratigraphy can be characterised through extraction of shallow cores. Where loading or cutting is unavoidable.3 24 . Frequently. hand coring and trial pits are only suitable for shallow peat cover (less than 2m). again where possible to the underlying substrate. Where possible. Generally speaking. 4. and access tracks and cutting therefore unnecessary. as outlined in section 3. or by drilling boreholes. trial pits should be carried out using a tractor mounted excavator and should be dug to the level of the underlying substrate. but which provide sufficient continuity of sample to allow stratigraphic logging to a suitable standard.1. These are hand-driven sampling techniques.trailers.4 4. efforts should be made to site the plant equipment away from slope crests and to drain the free faces of slope cuts. while boreholes are required for deeper peat. or gouge and Russian corers which are specifically designed for sampling soft sediments and peat. but only at the discretion of the site worker in relation to ease of retrieval of samples and with regard to Health and Safety issues.4.1 Intrusive investigation techniques Overview Characterisation of ground conditions through field sampling can be undertaken using minimally intrusive hand coring techniques.4. trial pitting should be undertaken by hand. through excavation of trial pits. In these circumstances. issues of site access and generation of potential instability prevent the safe use of excavators.2 4.4. boreholes and augering/coring should be sufficient to identify variability in peat material properties across the development site.

and compaction.4.5 Detailed logging of peat stratigraphy Peat deposits form over many thousands of years through the retarded decay and accumulation of successive layers of organic debris. Instead.4 Boreholes Where excavations beyond the depth attainable by an excavator are required. borehole excavations should be undertaken by rotary drilling or cable percussive drilling techniques.4. 4. The site team should be made aware of any potentially hazardous ground conditions and alerted to health and safety constraints. Consideration should be given to practical access routes.excavations are included in the AGS Safety Manual for Site Investigations (2002). the surface vegetation mat must be re-laid to promote recovery of habitat. Peat covered areas often contain materials of variable compressive strength and vehicles may easily become stranded. Specific details of drilling methods are available in BS5930 (1999). Prior to the ground investigation fieldwork. Many UK peat uplands are characterised by fibrous upper peat layers overlying more humified amorphous basal peat. disturbed samples may be collected from the representative excavated material. As these layers build up. photographed and back filled using the appropriate methods described in BS5930 (1999). the prevailing climatic conditions and their influence on moisture content lead to variable preservation of peat fibres. after back filling. In this instance. Block samples should be taken from the walls of the trial pit unless it is not safe to do so. 4. it is advised that logging of the peat is conducted under two logging systems: 25 . the proposed access route should be checked and agreed in order to minimise damage to the peatland. These methods are unlikely to provide informative results on the condition of peat deposits but may be relevant if a deeper core of the underlying geology requires sampling and investigation or if a piezometer is required to be installed in order to determine the hydrogeological conditions of the substrate. underlain by either weathered substrates of tills and/or bedrock. The degree of organic content and the high percentage moisture content of peat materials mean that standard logging using BS5930 (1999) is not suitable to interpret and record the detailed differences between peat layers. Importantly. All trial pits should be logged.

1999). 4. nature and purpose of the ground investigation. Logging should be carried out using both systems wherever trial pits and augered or cored samples have been extracted and where peat sections are exposed by existing cuttings or on naturally exposed and free draining faces such as gully sidewalls. 4. although the applicability of (iv) to (viii) for certain peat depends on the specific peat conditions: (i) Moisture content. as outlined in Long et al (1999) and. Variations in physical properties may be collected along horizontal profiles to identify vertical variability of a physical property. These technologies measure the vertical and lateral variation of physical properties of the ground. 4.6.1 Physical properties and shear strength tests The following physical properties may be of value in characterising peat and substrate. Below is a list of appropriate tests which should be considered for characterising both the peat and substrate in order that appropriate parameters can be incorporated into the site ground model. Data collection techniques for geophysical survey are outlined in Appendix B.6 Laboratory testing schedule The specification and number of individual laboratory tests will be largely dependent on the scale.(i) (ii) Troels-Smith. 26 . They are particularly useful in areas where biodiversity and other environmental issues preclude the use of more invasive methods (such as trial pits and drilling). Materials identified on site that are not peat should be described in accordance with British Standards (BS5930. Modified Von Post classification. Geophysical methods are generally used to support more traditional intrusive techniques and should be correlated with intrusive investigation to improve confidence in results. or on a grid basis to allow contour plots of data variation over the development site (and therefore identification of local anomalies or spatial continuity).5 Non-intrusive (geophysical) techniques Geophysical survey techniques may provide an alternative non-intrusive method for investigating peat environments. as outlined in Hobbs (1986).

(ii) (iii) (iv) (v) (vi) (vii) (viii) Bulk density. Hobbs (1986) provides useful practical advice on the applicability of such standard index tests to peat soils. Plastic and liquid limit. Preparation of peat samples for particle size distribution tests can be problematic. Bulk density and linear shrinkage determinations should be carried out on peat from block samples. Tests should be carried out in accordance with BS1377 (1990a). and Drained and undrained direct shear box testing. to be carried out in accordance with ASTM D1997-91 (due to a lack of equivalent British Standard) provides an additional and useful measure of peat composition and an indicator of potential tensile strength. Linear shrinkage. because the standard method in BS1377 (1990b) requires the sample to be dried first. Specific gravity. The use of fibre content tests. some variations are required in certain test procedures to account for the highly organic nature of peat materials. The following tests may also be of value in characterising the peat and substrate: (ix) (x) (xi) Soil pH and sulphate content – (if concrete design is a consideration). Organic content (loss on ignition) tests should be performed at a maximum temperature of 375°C to avoid any weight losses associated with loss of water from clay minerals (Mills. Particle size distribution. Organic content (Loss on Ignition). Drying for moisture content determinations should be undertaken at less than 50°C to avoid charring the samples. 27 . Particle size results can often be misleading for many fibrous peats and should be treated cautiously if used in geotechnical models and calculations. and Fibre content. Key variants on these tests are described below. however. however caution should be exercised in any interpretation of ground conditions based upon these tests. As a result samples should be prepared from natural moisture content without initial drying. Triaxial tests for undrained shear strength parameters. 2002). to ensure the moisture content and volume of the peat are preserved.

can also be of value in monitoring groundwater levels. groundwater monitoring may be valid. Soil water samples should be collected from trial pits to ensure shear tests are conducted under water with field equivalent pH. It is the responsibility of the competent person(s) to specify and justify the number of samples collected with respect to development of an accurate ground model. rates of slope movement. both during and subsequent to ground investigation. The shorter the monitoring the period. in the materials across the peat-substrate interface and in the shallow layers of the substrate (failure of which is often associated with peat slides). an absolute minimum of a twelve month cycle of monitoring is required to identify seasonal variability in hydrological conditions. if a planned turbine site is situated down-slope of a soakway or pipe network. substrate and peat/substrate interface as considered appropriate. characterising hydrological responsiveness of peat layers and identifying precursory slope movements at tension crack locations. Usually. the less representative the data. Appendix C identifies variables relevant to slope instability and the instrumentation available to monitor them.2 Sampling strategy A majority of samples for the tests described above will be collected from trial pits or free faces within the development site.All shear strength tests should be performed on undisturbed samples taken from intact block samples of peat. 4.7 Site instrumentation and monitoring regimes Instrumentation at the development site. 4. The number of samples per stratigraphic column should be sufficient to parameterise down-hole variation in the logged peat stratigraphy. pegs may be required to monitor crack displacement. The need for monitoring will depend upon ground conditions identified at the site. and in turn. If the turbine site is situated in an area of cracking.6. 28 . For example.

Lambe and Whitman.3 provides an approach suitable to first pass assessment of hazard and risk at a potential development site. For any potential failure surface. the steeper the ground the more prone it is to landslides. Brunsden and Prior. The likelihood of a particular slope or hillside failing is expressed as a “Factor of Safety”. 1986. Lee and Jones. There is potential for failure in any sloping ground but. all landslides are the result of gravitational forces causing the ground to fail. and the overview methodology described in section 5. Hazard and risk assessment for landslide investigations is thoroughly considered in Lee and Jones (2004). hazard ranking and reporting requirements Overview Methodologies for both slope stability assessment and geotechnical hazard and risk assessment are well covered in several existing publications (e. Bromhead. debris will travel downhill.1). Once failure has begun. 2004). there is a balance between the weight of the potential landslide (driving force or shear force) and the inherent strength of the soil or rock within the hillside (shear resistance) (Figure 5.g. If the Factor of Safety reduces to less than 1. 5.2 5. sometimes in a highly mobile state due to mixing with water. Only a brief summary explanation of its application is provided here. Provided the available shear resistance is greater than the shear force then the Factor of Safety will be greater than 1.1 5. all things being equal. 1984. This approach is subject to change.1 Slope stability analyses Application of slope analyses to peat covered slopes Fundamentally. The method of infinite slope analysis for investigating slope stability (Skempton and De Lory 1957) described below is well known and commonly employed. 1979. The reader is referred elsewhere for detailed insight into approaches to Quantitative Risk Assessment (or QRA). The shear resistance is provided by the natural strength of 29 .5 Stability assessment.0 and the slope will remain stable.2. The shear force is mostly a component of the weight of the rock/soil making up the potential landslide. the slope will fail. The overview provided here follows work being undertaken on behalf of the Scottish Executive at the time of writing this document (Winter et al. 2005).0 through a change in ground conditions.

values of F > 1 suggest conditions of stability. Warburton et al. upon the weight of the potential sliding mass and the tensile strength of fibres through the peat column. which is the ratio of the sum of resisting forces (shear strength) and the sum of the destabilising forces (shear stress): F= c'+ (γ − mγ w ) z cos 2 β tan φ ' γz sin β cos β where c’ is the effective cohesion. The stability of a slope can be assessed by calculating the factor of safety F. These slices allow sections of the slope with differing characteristics. where the shear surface is parallel to the ground surface. it is the most appropriate analytical method. to be treated individually. Values of F < 1 indicate a slope would have undergone failure under the conditions modelled. Sufficient slope stability analyses should be undertaken to represent the range of material. if unstable. The field sampling methods and laboratory tests recommended in the previous chapter provide the means of quantifying these controlling parameters in a ground model of the development site. However. The infinite slope model assumes a planar translational failure. ß is the angle of the slope to the horizontal and ø’ is the effective angle of internal friction. γ is the bulk unit weight of saturated peat.2. The infinite slope model can be modified to allow use of ‘slices’ in the slope (Craig. 5. topographic and 30 . a residual mobilising force from one slice. and since this is the failure type modelled by infinite slope analysis. as this is highly unlikely to happen in practice. which depends on the effect of water. 2004. and the length of the slope is large in comparison to the failure depth (hence ‘shallow’ failure). can be brought to bear on the slice below and taken into account in the stability analysis of the lower slice. z is the peat depth in the direction of normal stress. m is the height of the water table as a fraction of the peat depth. The nature of detachment of peat landslides is most frequently by a translational mechanism.2 Infinite slope analysis and application Stability analysis has rarely been undertaken for peat slide failures. Slices are not modelled as providing restraining forces to the slices below. 1997). By considering the length of the slices. soil or rock.g.the peat. such as peat depth or slope angle. γw is the unit weight of water. the infinite slope model has provided the most informative results. Carling. 1986). where it has been applied (e. particularly at the peat surface.

1 Hazard and risk ranking General The Institution of Civil Engineers’ publication by Clayton entitled “Managing Geotechnical Risk” (2001) presents the concept of risk analysis for a particular hazard as follows: Degree of Risk = Likelihood × Effect This approach was modified by Winter et al (2005) in their publication entitled “Scottish Road Network Landslides Study” and the study defines the understanding of the Scottish Executive’s view on the management of landslide risk across Scotland. a ‘zone’ of steep slope (>10°) with moderately deep peat exhibiting collapsed pipes and tension cracking and with a modelled Factor of Safety close to 1.hydrological conditions at the development site.3. The original concept was accepted but the definitions altered such that the term “Hazard” replaced “Likelihood”. Zoning on the plan (or map) should reflect the number of instability indicators in each zone. Exposure: the impact and consequences that the event may have. Thus: Hazard Ranking = Hazard × Exposure Winter et al (2005) define these terms as follows: • • Hazard: the likelihood of the (peat) landslide event occurring. 5.3 5.2 Determination of peat landslide Hazard and Exposure A peat landslide hazard zonation plan and accompanying risk register should be prepared using the scale presented in Table 5. 5.3.1 (below). the term “Exposure” replaced “Effect” and “Degree of Risk” is replaced by “Hazard Ranking”. A number of possible methods exist for hazard ranking in both qualitative and quantitative terms and the specific methodology should reflect the size and cost of the scheme and the peat landslide hazards identified. it is advised that an initial qualitative hazard ranking matrix methodology should be considered where an expert judgement is made on hazard and exposure based on semiquantitative rating scales. Variability in Factor of Safety can then be used as a key input into hazard zoning. For example. as described below. described below.0 would be higher on the Hazard scale than a zone of flat (<1°) terrain with 31 . However.

and the scales applied to each zone should be determined by the competent person(s) on the basis of the site evidence and expert judgement.100% 3 High impact 4% . with 1 representing a very low or negligible impact and 5 an extremely high impact (Table 5.10% 2 Low impact 1% . This will result in a hazard ranking of between 1 and 25 for each location on the peat landslide hazard zonation plan. Such judgement is often best applied by a panel of technically competent persons with sufficient and appropriate experience of characterising peat hazards. on the potential project or on the development site infrastructure. it is possible to assign a hazard ranking for each zone by multiplying the Hazard and Exposure of each geo-event (Table 5.2).3 and Figure 5.1 in 10 2 Unlikely 1 in 107 .2. The definition of zone boundaries. If environmental rather than financial issues are the key constraint to the development. For the purposes of this document.3. Scale Likelihood Probability of occurrence 5 Almost certain > 1 in 3 4 Probable 1 in 10 . Qualitative assessment of peat landslide Hazard over the lifetime of the development Potential exposure should also be assessed on a similar basis.4% 1 Very low impact < 1% of project Table 5. then exposure should be applied to the environment of the development site and also to the adjacent environment that may be at risk.3 Hazard ranking for peat landslides Using the scales above. Mitigation measures can then be targeted at 32 . Exposure relates to impacts on the environment.1.shallow peat. Qualitative assessment of peat landslide Exposure over the lifetime of the development 5.1 in 3 3 Likely 1 in 102 . few or no instability indicators and a high Factor of Safety. In this case the impact refers to the potential losses in habitat (environmental damage) through construction induced peat landslides.2).1 in 102 1 Negligible < 1 in 107 Table 5. Scale Exposure Impact as % of total project cost or time 5 Extremely high impact > 100% of project 4 Very high impact 10% .

zones with the highest hazard rankings. Hazard Ranking and suggested actions Where the hazard ranking for a zone is significant. Suggested actions associated with each hazard ranking are presented in Table 5.16 Substantial 5 .3. Exposure quantification can be achieved by assessing the costs of all infrastructure. properties.4 Quantitative Risk Assessment (QRA) Where significant.10 Significant 1-4 Insignificant Table 5. substantial or serious. without significant environmental impact. Hazard Ranking for each Action suggested for each hazard zone hazard zone 17 . Detailed coverage of assessment of landslide hazard is provided in Lee & Jones (2004).3. then it may be appropriate to carry out a detailed Quantitative Risk Assessment (QRA) to reduce the level of uncertainty and aid planning and site layout design. substantial or serious peat landslide hazards have been identified and the degree of hazard is uncertain for a given site. Hazard quantification requires clarification of the mechanisms. human life. Mitigation measures are considered below. 5. This would comprise more rigorous quantification of hazard and exposure.25 Serious Avoid project development at these locations Project should not proceed unless hazard can be avoided or mitigated at these locations. in order to reduce hazard ranking to significant or less Project may proceed pending further investigation to refine assessment and mitigate hazard through relocation or re-design at these locations Project should proceed with monitoring and mitigation of peat landslide hazards at these locations as appropriate 11 . and other economic losses including the cost of restoring 33 . likelihood and impact of peat landslides within each identified hazard zone. avoidance or mitigation measures are the only means by which project infrastructure can be considered acceptable within that zone at the proposed development site.

Construction management: site specific procedures aimed at minimising construction induced peat landslide hazards should be identified and implemented and followed rigorously by site construction personnel. slope angle) and site independent variables (e. 5. the risk level and the nature of the risk. However. A combination of options may be required to reduce the risks to an acceptable level for a given scheme.biodiversity losses.g. drainage measures need to be carefully planned to minimise any increase in instability caused by creating discontinuities in the peat mass. the proposed design should be modified to incorporate engineering measures to reduce or eliminate the risk. weather) that contribute to the incidence of natural peat landslides are beyond engineering control without significant damage to the peat itself. a number of engineering measures exist to minimise the risks associated with potential triggers (such as short term peaks in hydrogeological activity): • Installation of drainage measures: installation of targeted drainage measures would aim to isolate areas of susceptible peat from upslope water supply. Soil nailing: this is not normally acceptable for peat slopes.g. for example by relocating infrastructure within the development area or by relocating to an alternate site. Slope re-profiling: this is not normally considered an acceptable mitigation measure but has been used effectively in the past where environmental costs have been outweighed by safety benefits to the public. Where complete avoidance is not possible. It is then possible to assess the benefit to cost ratio of the scheme and any proposed mitigation measures.5. This cost is then assessed against the cost of carrying out remedial measures or management practices at the site.5.1 Avoidance Areas exhibiting serious or substantial hazard ranking associated with peat landslides should be avoided. Engineering mitigation measures to minimise landslide occurrence Many of the site specific (e. since peat materials may readily deform around the soil nails. re-routing surface (soakaways/gullies) and subsurface (pipes) drainage around critical areas. 5. 5. peat depth.2 • • • 34 .5 Mitigation The extent of mitigation required will depend upon the scale of the project.

Catch ditches: similarly.These may include work method statements subject to an environmental check to monitor compliance. These checklists should incorporate a weather forecast to minimise peat working during heavy rain and to allow environmental mitigation measures to be put in place where construction work is on-going. catch-fences positioned down-slope of the suspected or known landslide prone area can slow or halt runout (Tobin. • 5. It should be noted that factors that affect the likelihood of peat landslides and their consequences may change with time.5. Catch fences should be engineered into the peat substrate. Paired ditches and fences have been observed (Tobin. Design of stabilisation measures may be reviewed and risks may be reassessed during construction as the process of construction yields further data. 2003) to slow peat landslide runout at failure sites. ongoing review of the peat hazard management plan is essential. Weather forecasts can be obtained using data available from numerous web-sites or provided at a cost by commercial organisations or the Met Office. although it is preferable that they are cut in non-peat material. Fencing may require periodic inspection for removal of debris. Thus.3 Engineering mitigation measures to control landslide impacts A number of engineering measures are available for reducing the impacts (or Exposure) associated with residual peat landslide hazards. 5. ditches may also slow or halt runout. 35 .5. 2003). Simple earthwork ditches can form a useful low-cost defence. with the frequency of the review contingent on the hazards identified and the status of the proposed development. These include: • Catch wall fences: where the potential for peat landslides has been identified. Monitoring of all stages of analysis and assessment and prioritisation as the plan evolves and is implemented will provide feedback for the reassessment of risk.4 Monitoring and review A peat hazard management plan incorporating a risk matrix should be prepared and updated regularly.

Details of the samples taken and the procedures used should be included and the location and reasons for any installations should be included.6 Reporting The multidisciplinary team responsible for reporting the peat landslide hazard assessment should prepare both the factual and interpretative reports for the study. • A list of all samples taken including sample reference numbers. At a minimum this should include: • A desk study summary plan for the site summarising all supporting mapping and observations. Laboratory testing: a summary of the laboratory testing that has been undertaken including summary tables of physical. a summary of the site location and extent. detailed site investigation plans.1 Factual report structure The following is a suggested structure for the factual report. and length of time taken to carry out the field investigation. photos of excavation. chemical and geotechnical properties of each peat layer identified onsite. • Details on the sites investigation locations including logging sheets. 5. and a brief summary of the scope and purpose of the investigation. Design of Ground Investigation: an explanation of the size and scale of the investigation. a rationale of why the locations and methods have been selected and a statement on the measures undertaken to mitigate and/or reduce potential site risks. elevations. dates taken and the tests undertaken on each sample. A summary of the logging procedure and a summary of the different peat types identified onsite. Appendices: A detailed series of appendices should be included to present all of the supporting information for the above sections. The information displayed should be sufficient to populate any slope stability model used in stability analysis. detailing the minimum content: (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) Introduction: a brief statement indicating who the work has been carried out for.5. Recommendations as to the contents of these reports follow. Field investigation and testing: a summary of the field work undertaken including. detailed mapping. and 36 .6.

retaining structures. 5. drainage measures. the nature and scope of the investigation. and a summary of the site location and extent. Discussion regarding mitigation measures: A detailed discussion should be presented of the main conclusions of the investigation and of the resulting mitigation measures that are recommended for each infrastructure component.500. Anomalies in any of the data collected should be noted and their impact on confidence in interpretation clearly stated. failure mechanisms and the design criteria applied. informed by the factual report. They should be supported by interpretative geological cross sections of the peat environment. It is expected that particular attention be paid to the gradients of cut slopes and fills. The following items should be discussed where appropriate: geological conditions.2 Interpretative reports The following is a suggested structure for the interpretative report. Description and History: a detailed description of the site based on the observations made by the Competent Person during their site review and reconnaissance. land-use history and natural environmental change. soil and peat properties. local climate and hydrology/hydrogeology. history of past landslide events and ground movement rates. Ground Conditions: descriptions of the ground conditions found during the investigation and an interpretation of their relevance to the stability of the site and surrounding area should be provided. Evaluation of Stability: the stability of the site and relevant adjacent areas should be evaluated with respect to the proposed development components (structures. detailing the minimum content: (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) Introduction: a statement indicating for whom the work was done. communications) and any associated stabilisation measures. It should be referenced to a plan of the site showing national grid co-ordinates and to a scale no smaller than 1:2. This should 37 .• All supporting laboratory results that have been used to characterise the specific site materials and their geotechnical properties.6.

5.3 Early exit from the peat landslide hazard assessment process Figure 3.1. and the risks associated with their occurrence mitigated. then the desk-study report must justify in its closing chapter the reasons for exit from the hazard assessment process. minimising drainage diversions and specification of drain linings where site conditions require them. mechanisms and causes of peat landslide are considered in detail in a paper by Dykes and Warburton (2006).6. The discussion of mitigation measures should also include a summary of any environmental damage that may be caused by the development and proposals for remediation. Martini et al. this should be achieved by the use of a risk register.(vi) include details of the recommendations to ensure both the long term peat stability of the site (taking account of the anticipated life of the development) and the short term peat stability of the site during construction. Peat landslide hazard zonation plans should be included and peat landslide hazard management plans referred to with appropriate mitigation measures. 38 . It is expected that particular reference be made to matters such as: provision for free drainage of groundwater. If this exit option becomes available and is taken by the developer. and in two books that consider wider issues of peat degradation (Evans and Warburton. 2006).7 Further reading This document has provided a brief overview of peat landslide hazards. The form. gullies. the means by which they may be managed. However. 5. a considerable range of published material is available that may be of use to developers in undertaking the works described in this document. avoidance of natural drainage pathways (e. Justification should be referenced to data collected for the desk study that verifies the conditions outlined in Figure 3.1 provided a means of exiting the peat landslide hazard assessment process in the event that site conditions indicate very low potential for peat landslides. Conclusion and Recommendations: Single line conclusions and recommendations should be presented stating the outcome of the above discussion. in press.g. soakaways) and provision of flexible jointed pipes capable of sustaining small movements without leakage.

for their kind permission to use the diagrams and data from the geotechnical input to Farr Wind farm. while landslide hazard and risk assessment is considered in detail in Lee and Jones (2004). Methodologies for landslide investigation and management are provided in DoE (1996).8 Acknowledgements We gratefully acknowledge the input of Halcrow Geotechnical staff in the compilation of this document and the guidance given by Dr Jeff Warburton of Durham University Thanks are given to NPower Renewables Ltd.The geotechnical properties of peat are well described in a chapter on organic soils by Bell (1999). 5. 39 . with detailed discussion of peat physical and chemical properties provided by Hobbs (1986).

E. London. British Standards Institution British Standards Institution (1990b) British Standard Methods of test for Soils for civil engineering purposes. 5. Part 8.C. Shear strength tests (effective stress): BS 1377: London. John Wiley & Sons. pp231-246 AGEC (2004) Reports on Derrybrien Windfarm: Final Report on Landslide of October 2003 / Final Report on Post-Landslide Site Appraisal. B. 76. (1960) A bog burst in the Isle of Lewis. Part 2.A. B. D. F.R. July 1983: Descriptions and failure mechanisms. British Standards Institution British Standards Institution (1990a) British Standard Methods of test for Soils for civil engineering purposes. D. Classification tests: BS 1377. 496p Bowes. London. Wiley. Chichester Carling. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms.K. and Berglund. D. pp21-23 British Standards Institution (1999) Code of practice for site investigations: BS 5930. D.N. Spon Press Brunsden. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology. Unpublished Report for ESBI Bell. In Handbook of Holocene Palaeoecology and Palaeohydrology (edited by B.G. and Prior. Chichester and New York. pp193-207 40 . Berglund). Blackwell.(1992 ) The stability of slopes.6 References Aaby. (1972) The morphology of degraded landslide slopes in South-West Dorset. (1999) The engineering properties of soils and rocks. Northern Pennines. (1986) Peat slides in Teesdale and Weardale. 11. pp205-222 Brunsden. (1986) Characterisation of peat and lake deposits.B. British Standards Institution Bromhead. Scottish Geographical Magazine. (1984) Slope instability. P. E. D.E. and Jones.

I.J. a new introduction.U and Doornkamp.) Peatlands: Evolution and Records of Environmental and Climatic Changes. (2001) Review of the contribution to climate change of organic soils under different land uses. B. (2005) Sediment budget for an eroding peat moorland catchment in northern England Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 30.Interpretative Report.. (2006) Slope instability and mass movements in peat deposits. Report No. Blackwell Publishers Limited. J. Oxford Evans. Williams. Shetland Islands Council 41 . Sixth Edition.G.. form and landscape change. K. J. London: HMSO Dykes. J. Amsterdam Dykes. R. Geomorphology (In Press) The Electricity Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations (2000) (schedule 4) Evans. A. (1997). R5917. and Warburton. and Chesworth. Scottish Executive Central Research Unit.. W.F. W. E. In Martini. (in press) Geomorphology of upland peat: erosion. J. A.I.R.C. S.P. C. Soil Mechanics. and Kirk. and Warburton. (2006) Mass movements in peat: a formal classification scheme. M. Elsevier.G. (Eds. London: Spon Press Department of the Environment (1990) Planning Policy Guidance: Development on Unstable Land Department of Environment (1996) Landslide Investigation and Management in Great Britain: A Guide for Planners and Developers. Cooke.J. Towers.Chapman. M. Oxford: Clarendon Press Craig.. M. 68p Clayton. pp557-577 Halcrow Group Ltd (2003) Shetland A970 Channerwick Peat Slides . (1990) Geomorphology in Environmental Management. Coull.C. and Paterson. 2nd edition. A. Martinez Cortizas.L. (2001) Managing Geotechnical Risk Thomas Telford Ltd. R.P. and Warburton.P.

(Ed. Proceedings of the Leeds Philosophical and Literature Society.E.P. Journal of Geophysical Research 110. 454p Long. A.J. A.S. and Sledge.J. Amsterdam 42 . (2005) Controls of soil pipe frequency in upland blanket peat.) (2006) Peatlands: Evolution and Records of Environmental and Climatic Changes.B. Martinez Cortizas. J Wiley.. E. A. FoE. I. E. (1986) Mire morphology and the properties and behaviour of some British and Foreign peats. F01002. T.K. pp1-145. Washington. In. and Clymo. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 29. Balkema. J. London. pp121-134 Hobbs. Science 4. J. (2004) Landslide risk assessment.N. A.A.H. N. J. pp276 – 288 Higgitt. 29. 7. Proceedings. pp3-36 Immirzi. (1999) Coastal stratigraphy: a case study from Johns River. Volume 1.H.. Lambe. Innes. University of Exeter. W. D. 295p Martini. I.. and Warburton. Maltby. J. Rotterdam. A report for Friends of the Earth by the Wetland Ecosystems Research Group. W. Geomorphology. Thomas Telford. (1941-46) A bog burst near Danby in Cleveland. of Geography. London.V. Shennan. In: Bonnard. C.Hemingway. pp7-80 Holden.W. Chichester Lee. Technical Guide No.L. Dept. D. J. M. Elsevier. pp437442 Holden. and Jones. Quaternary Research Association. (2004) Hydrological connectivity of soil pipes determined by groundpenetrating radar tracer detection.). doi:10. The description and analysis of Quaternary stratigraphic field sections. and Chesworth.1029/2004JF000143 Hutchinson. and Tooley.B.P.M.C. J. London.. (1992) The global status of peatlands and their role in carbon cycling. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology 19. (1979) Soil mechanics. (1999) Applications of differential GPS in upland fluvial geomorphology.. R. R. (1988) General Report: morphological and geotechnical parameters of landslides in relation to geology and hydrogeology. and Whitman. (Eds.. C. Fifth International Symposium on Landslides.

W. 14. County Mayo. 22 Warburton. A. University of Durham Tobin (2003) Report on the Landslides at Dooncarton. Geol. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. Mayo County Council Tomlinson. Higgit. L. and Mills. (2002) Peat slides: Morphology. and Shackman. J. A. (1981) The erosion of peat in the uplands of Northern Ireland.J.. pp457-473 Warburton. D.J. Communication.Mills. 3. F. ISBN 0 7559 4649 9 AGS Safety Manual for Site Investigations (2002).G. IV.. and Hegarty. Winter. Irish Geography. pp1-73 Von Post.. 43 . Barnachuille and Pollathomais.. J. A. 28. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. J. Unders. unpublished PhD thesis. Holden. D. Wilson. Pedologie IV. Northern England. (1993) Morphology and causes of recent peat slides on Skerry Hill. (2005) Scottish Road Network Landslides Study. MacGregor. Earth Science Reviews 67. 18. (2004) Anatomy of a Pennine peat slide. (1955) Karakterisering af lose jordater (Characterisation of unconsolidated sediments).. C. Comite internat.J. Northern Ireland. P.. pp593-601. L. (2004) Hydrological controls of surficial mass movements in peat. Mechanisms and Recovery. R. Danm. pp51-64 Troels-Smith. M. Mills. (1924) Das Genetische System der Organogenen Bildungen Schwedens. pp139-156. J. Co Antrim.


Plates and Figures .


1 Flow diagram checklist for peat landslide hazard assessment .Figure 1.

1 Flow diagram checklist for peat landslide hazard assessment .5 m)*? dry mass to a depth = 0.5 m)*? 1 NO 2 (see Chapter 2) (see Chapter 2) Is there evidence of historical and/or Is there evidence of historical and/or current peat landslide activity or current peat landslide activity or of indicators of instability of indicators of instability NO YES 3 YES Are slopes >2° Are slopes >2° present at the present at the development site** development site** NO YES 4 Will site works impinge Will site works impinge on the peat covered on the peat covered areas at the areas at the development site? development site? YES Can proposed Can proposed infrastructure be infrastructure be relocated (micro-siting) to relocated (micro-siting) to avoid peat covered areas avoid peat covered areas NO NO 5 Summary statement in desk Summary statement in desk study report that conditions study report that conditions conducive to peat instability conducive to peat instability are unlikely to be present*** are unlikely to be present*** Proceed with detailed ground Proceed with detailed ground investigation targeted over investigation targeted over critical parts of the critical parts of the development area development area (see Chapter 4) (see Chapter 4) (see Chapter 5) (see Chapter 5) Figure 3.DECISION LEVEL ASSESSMENT CRITERIA Notes * definition of peat based upon the Soil Survey for Scotland definition (cited in Chapman et al. 2001) ** limiting slope angle based on >95% of published peat failures being situated on slopes > 2° within the extent of the scarp area YES *** the summary statement does not imply that no failure will occur. nor does it comment upon failure potential in soils not classified as peat Is peat present at the development site Is peat present at the development site (where peat is 60% organic material by (where peat is 60% organic material by dry mass to a depth = 0..


Figure 5.2. Qualitative Hazard Ranking methodology .

Scotland. Figure B. resistivity (R) and P-wave Seismic. Results of a GPR Survey. Farr Wind Farm.Figure B1. . Fibrous peat overlies amorphous peat (yellow line) which in turn overlies compacted glacial till (red line). Plan showing the location of geophysical traverses on a proposed turbine base at the Farr Wind Farm. showing peat stratigraphy. These included Ground Penetrating radar (GPR).2.

3. . Results and interpretation of resistivity and P-wave seismic geophysical surveys undertaken at Farr Wind Farm.Figure B. Scotland. showing a horizontally stratified sequences (verified by drilling and trial pitting).

1 . a shallow translational slide failure in peat with large slab-shaped raft visible (right) and extensive exposed substrate (left) .2 .Plate 2.Peat slide.Bog burst. a spreading failure in peat with pear-shaped area of disturbance with concentric rafts and tears and little substrate exposed Plate 2.

Plate 2. Diamond shaped tears Plate 2.4. Long and semi-continuous tension crack .3.

5. Multiple intersecting cracks Plate 2.6. Compression ridge .7. A section of thrusted peat Plate 2.Plate 2.

Plate 2.10. Collapsed piping Plate 2. Extrusion features Plate 2.9. Pipe outlet in exposed peat scarp .8.

11. Gullies. and pools and hummocks Plate 2.Plate 2. Flushes and soakaways .12.


moisture content.000. at different wavelengths and polarisation. This is particularly useful for identifying changes in topography such as subsidence and precursory ground movements on slopes. and therefore that this list should not be considered exhaustive. They can generate pixels of . At these scales individual flow lobes. offers data which provides 1m ground resolution imagery and enables mapping scales of 1:2000 or greater. Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry (InSAR) can create digital elevation model data and detect subtle changes in elevation to the accuracy of the centimetre scale. A. A. Currently available SAR (synthetic aperture radar) data includes ERS with 25m spatial resolution. However. debris sizes etc. InSAR) Radar imagery. the 30m pixel size has limited its applications for individual peat slide investigations.4 Multispectral Video Multi-spectral video cameras operate at the visible to near infra-red portion of the spectrum and can be mounted on low-flying aircraft. It is expected that these techniques will be revised and superseded with advances in satellite technology.2 Optical Satellite Imagery (Thematic Mapper) The Landsat series of satellites operates the Thematic Mapper instrument. IRS-1C with 5m pixels improves mapping scales to 1:10. RADARSAT with 10-15m spatial resolution and stereo capability. and JERS with 18m spatial resolution. The French SPOT satellite provides 10m resolution panchromatic data and the ability to acquire stereo image pairs. Furthermore the Indian. Radar data can be acquired during the night or day and effectively ‘sees’ through cloud.000. An overview of the main techniques is provided below. Landsat-7 now offers a 15m resolution panchromatic band which enables mapping scales to 1:25. The IKONOS satellite. ground fissures and subtle morphology indicative of potential peat landslides may be resolvable. These data enable interpretation at a range of scales from regional.3 Microwave (Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry. can be obtained from both satellite and aircraft.1 Appendix A Satellite imagery Several data capture techniques based on satellite and aerial imagery are available at the time of publication. A.A A. Unfortunately. to local and include vegetation type. available since early 2000.

. the estimation of soil thickness prone to landslides and the mapping of geomorphological features of landslides at the regional scale and the local scale. Field spectra obtained from in-situ measurements are used to determine different classes of iron oxide precipitates from the air and. They can be mounted on low-flying aircraft. Uses include the mapping of geological units in areas of poor exposure through estimation of soil moisture content.5 Hyperspectral Scanners Airborne hyperspectral scanners are much more complicated and expensive instruments than multispectral video.less than 1m ground resolution and are therefore suitable for large mapping scales. This may be particularly useful for the mapping of peat landslide groundwater systems. the different pH levels of drainage systems. by inference. Remotely sensed multi-spectral data have been shown to be of considerable use for landslide investigations. A.

They are particularly useful in areas where biodiversity and other environmental issues preclude the use of more invasive methods (such as trial pits and drilling). topography.e. underlying geology. B. High frequencies give better resolution and shallow penetration. Information is provided on the depth to bedrock (i. cables and underground utilities which may cause geophysical noise. . this provides an indication of the depth to the base of the peat.1 Appendix B Geophysical survey techniques Geophysical survey techniques may provide an alternative non-intrusive method for investigating peat environments. For example. However. whereby four electrodes are placed in a line in the ground and a current is passed through the two outer electrodes. clay-rich and water saturated soils have a lower penetration than gravel and dry soils.B B. anticipated depth of the peat-substrate interface. These technologies measure the vertical and lateral variation of physical properties of the ground. hydrogeology. although in general.3 Electrical resistivity This method measures small changes in the electrical resistance of the ground between an electrode array. B. The type of instrument. Partial reflections occur at interfaces with different geoelectrical properties (within the solid and superficial geology). the two-dimensional Wenner resistivity array may be used. methodology and resulting interpretation will depend upon the anticipated physical properties of the peat. The potential difference is measured across the two inner electrodes and the resistivity is calculated. geophysical methods should be used to support more traditional intrusive techniques. thickness of peat and superficial deposits). and the presence of fences. signal penetration and resolution limits are also influenced by the frequency of the transmitted electromagnetic pulse. Lower frequencies give lower resolution and deeper penetration. In general. Measurements are taken of the time taken for the radar pulse to be reflected from a stratigraphic interface.2 Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) This consists of a radar antenna transmitting electromagnetic energy in pulse form.

7 Gravity The gravity method involves the measurement of variations in the gravity field of the Earth caused by local differences in the density of the subsurface rocks. A magnetic survey is rapid and easy to carry out and a site can be surveyed with a close grid spacing (often 1m) at low cost. The instrumentation has a microprocessor control to record the data for downloading to a computer at suitable points in the survey. Microgravity surveys.B. while soft. and nature of the superficial deposit/bedrock interface.5 Magnetometry The magnetometry method involves the measurement of variations in the magnetic field of the Earth caused by local differences in the magnetisation of the subsurface rocks. B. using the La Coste Romberg system. Stiffer and stronger materials usually have higher seismic velocities. B. Readings are taken using geophones connected via a multi-core cable to a seismograph. The standard instrument is the proton magnetometer. The depth of penetration of an electromagnetic field depends upon its frequency and the electrical conductivity of the medium though which it is propagating. fluxgate and nuclear resonance. . for instance where the minerals magnetite or hematite are present. have been used in the detection of natural cavities and voids (or pipes).4 P-wave seismic refraction This method measures the velocity of refracted seismic waves through superficial deposits and bedrock. B. This determines the depth to.6 Electromagnetic (EM) Electromagnetic surveying methods make use of the response of the ground to the propagation of electromagnetic fields. The resultant field may be detected by a receiver coil. The response of the ground is the generation of secondary electromagnetic fields. loose or fractured deposits have lower velocities. The sonic pulse is artificially introduced into the ground. Other types of magnetometer include magnetic balance. which are composed of an alternating electrical intensity and magnetising force. The primary fields are generated by passing alternating current through a small coil made of many turns of wire through a large loop of wire.

Rainfall Rain gauges Ground movement Tension pegs crack Installed either side of existing tension cracks and regularly monitored to determine rates and frequencies of crack extension and ground movement. Pore water Piezometers pressure Overland flow Crest tubes stage Installed to monitor overland flow/run-off from the slopes after periods of heavy rainfall. Use of data loggers can be helpful in remote sites and also for detailed assessment of how groundwater levels respond to particular rainfall events. overland flow (run-off) characteristics. Installed to collect rainfall data via either automated or regularly monitored systems. Detailed ground movement Extensometers . Automated systems allow for data collection on ground movement at regular intervals (e. slope movement at tension crack locations and rainfall. Installed to monitor groundwater pressure at a particular depth. The following instruments may be installed: Variable to be Instrumentation Description and purpose monitored Groundwater Standpipes Installed to monitor groundwater level. Automated systems that can be installed in existing tension cracks to establish both the nature and rate of ground movement.C C. which are difficult to interpret from spot water level readings.g.1 Appendix C Site monitoring and instrumentation Various types of instrumentation can be considered for installation on site to allow monitoring of groundwater levels.

Table C1.5m) in locations where the depth of the shear surface is known to monitor rates of deformation at the shear surface. Site instrumentation recommendations . Shear surface Inclinometers movement Installed in deep peat slides (+ 2. Simple polythene tubing which is installed in the peat slope and probed regularly. Where inclinometers may not be appropriate slip indicator methods can be used.every 3 hrs) and therefore allow collation of ground movement with groundwater and rainfall characteristics on a given site. The depth of deformation in the tubing indicates the potential position of the shear surface.

co.edinburgh@blackwell. u k .uk Astron B49722 12/06 Further copies are available from Blackwell’s Bookshop 53 South Bridge Edinburgh EH1 1YS Telephone orders and enquiries 0131 622 8283 or 0131 622 8258 Fax orders 0131 557 8149 Email orders ISBN 0-7559-6378-4 9 780755 963782 w w w .gov.scotland.© Crown copyright 2006 This document is also available on the Scottish Executive website: www. s c o t l a n d . g o v .

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