Spatiotemporal sequence of Himalayan debris flow from analysis of high-frequence seismic noise Public Deposited

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  • During the 2003 summer monsoon, the Hi-CLIMB seismological stations deployed across the Himalayan Range detected bursts of high-frequency seismic noise that lasted several hours to days. On the basis of the cross correlation of seismic envelopes recorded at 11 stations, we show that the largest transient event on 15 August was located nearby a village partially destroyed on that day by a devastating debris flow. This consistency in both space and time suggests that high-frequency seismic noise analysis can be used to monitor debris flow generation as well as the evacuation of the sediment. A systematic study of one year of seismic noise, focusing on the detection of similar events, provides information on the spatial and temporal occurrence of mass movements at the front of the Himalayas. With a 50% probability of occurrence of a daily event, a total of 46 debris flows are seismically detected. Most of them were generated in regions of steep slopes, large gullies, and loose soils during the 2003 summer monsoon storms. These events are compared to local meteorological data to determine rainfall thresholds for slope failures, including the cumulative rainfall needed to bring the soil moisture content to failure capacity. The inferred thresholds are consistent with previous estimates deduced from soil studies as well as sediment supply investigations in the area. These results point out the potential of using seismic noise as a dedicated tool for monitoring the spatiotemporal occurrence of landslides and debris flows on a regional scale.
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  • Burtin, A., Bollinger, L., Cattin, R., Vergne, J., & Nabelek, J. L. (2009). Spatiotemporal sequence of Himalayan debris flow from analysis of high-frequence seismic noise. Journal of Geophysical Research, 114. doi:doi:10.1029/2008JF001198
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