The role of antecedent moisture in landslide early warning systems and debris flow dynamics

Dr. Ben Mirus

U.S. Geological Survey
Geologic Hazards Science Center
Golden, Colorado, USA


Fellowship Period: 2022-2023

I am a Supervisory Research Geologist in the USGS Landslide Hazards Program. My group investigates topics related to mapping and identifying landslides, understanding and modeling landslide mechanisms, quantifying landslide susceptibility and frequency, and characterizing the impacts of these deadly and destructive natural hazards. This research builds on my background in geology, hillslope hydrology, and mathematical modeling to advancing tools for hazard assessment and loss reduction.

Activities within WSL Fellowship

Subsurface hydrology plays a crucial role in the initiation and mobility of mass movements, yet there are no established guidelines for incorporating this understanding into landslide forecasting or debris-flow models. The objectives of this project are to advance methods for using hydrology to inform landslide warnings and to examine how antecedent moisture influences debris flow dynamics. During the fellowship, I investigated these topics with senior scientists, postdocs, and students. We installed hydrologic measurement stations to supplement long-term monitoring at the Illgraben experimental catchment. These data are informing new approaches to quantifying debris flow entrainment with the RAMMS model. I also collaborated with researchers across Europe to develop strategies for integrating hydrologic data to improve landslide forecasting. Lastly, I learned from WSL staff about the Swiss national landslide occurrence and damage databases, to inform future USGS work on these topics.

Cooperation within WSL

Interne Kontakte (Datensätze)