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Viero, Alessia (2011) The Cinque Torri Group (The Dolomites): analysis of past and present-day gravitational phenomena by laser scanning and numerical modeling. [Ph.D. thesis]

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Abstract (english)

Many sites in the Dolomites are endangered by mountain slope instabilities, whose effects can lead to exposure of both human life and infrastructures to landslide hazard.
In cases of reactivated or active landslides, the knowledge of the past gravitational phenomena can allow an indirect analysis of the present slope setting, therefore leading to an explanation of the triggering factors of the instability. In this cognitive process, the first step is the characterization of geometry and rock material properties of the studied unstable slope.
Among the wide variety of gravitational phenomena, the Deep Seated Gravitational Slope Deformations (DSGSDs) still represent an open issue in terms of triggering factors and slope behavior.
This study concerns the analysis of the dynamics that govern an unstable rock group named Cinque Torri, placed in the Dolomites (Eastern Alps, Italy). The rock group is an articulated system of carbonatic monoliths located in a very important touristic area, therefore characterized by a significant risk. The involved instability phenomena represent an example of lateral spreading developed over a larger DSGSD. After the recent fall of a monolith of more than 10 000 m3, a scientific study began to monitor the more unstable sectors and to characterize the past and present movements as a fundamental tool for predictions of future movements and hazard assessment.
The present research outlines how the geomorphology of the area is strongly influenced by the tectonic structures that resulted from the Alpine orogeny and the geotechnical contrast between lithologies. This DSGSD is mainly influenced by the contact of lithologies with different rheological attitudes. The setting is represented by a plastic bed mainly made up by mudstone layers, and above a dolomite cliff roof, which is extremely tectonized and separated in various rocky towers of different dimensions.
Attempting to achieve greater insight in the ongoing lateral spreading, a method aimed at producing a quantitative analysis of occurred rotations has been developed, applied and validated.
The introduction of numerical modeling as last stage of the research aims to investigate the present- day slope instability mechanisms, and indirectly to support the outcomes of the analyzed rotations. In particular, the combined use of the distinct-element and the finite-element codes allows a modeling of the stress-strain relations within the slope
and the control exerted by both discrete structures and rock-mass strength. Moreover, these codes provide a powerful method to assess the influence of the controlling factors on the overall instability.
This research project is articulated in following steps:
1. Recognition and characterization of the main discontinuity systems through the use of laser scanner datasets (terrestrial, TLS, and aerial laser scanner, ALS), and their validation through traditional field measurements.
2. Rock properties classification through field surveys and laboratory analyses.
3. Geophysical investigations (Electrical Resistivity Tomography and passive seismic reliefs) aimed to discern the buried structural setting of the slope.
4. Use of the experimental software packages Coltop-3D (Jaboyedoff, 2007) and PCM (Vosselman, 2004) on TLS/ALS data, to discriminate the tectonic influence on local
rock instability phenomena and provide a complete geometrical characterization of rock discontinuities respectively.
5. Structural correlation among the spreaded rock monoliths.
6. Estimation of the rotational components of the lateral spreading, in order to predict future instabilities and to interprete the buried features of the DSGSD.
7. Numerical modeling of the DSGSD based on a distinct element code (UDEC, 4.1).
and a finite element code (Plaxis, 8.5). In order to create a conceptual model of the present and future instabilities, a comparison of the results of the modeling and the interpretation of the rotational component analysis is achieved.
In particular, the most significant achievement of this thesis concerns the role of rock discontinuities for indirect analysis of the initial slope conditions by providing a novel methodology for rotational movements computation based on laser scanner data
The input data frame is based on the accurate geometrical survey of the Cinque Torri area obtained by laser scanning. In June 2008, the Cinque Torri rock group was observed by using a long-range TLS and an ALS. The survey was performed covering a surface of about 22 km2. In this way, a multi-scale model of the unstable rocky group and its surroundings is derived.
The results of the proposed methodology allows a primary identification of the tectonic fabric on the spread rock sectors in terms of representativeness of joint families inside the group with respect to a reference frame fixed on the external stable areas. Both bedding planes and representative joint-sets are used to derive the Euler angles that describe the rotational components of the lateral spreading. On the basis of these results, a new interpretation of the phenomena is achieved. The variations from the regional trend provide a kinematic description of the past gravitational movement of the Cinque Torri group, which can be interpreted as initially controlled by the inherited tectonic features and subsequently differentiated into sectors. After such a differentiation, the movements are most likely induced by deep seated ground deformation and local topographic anomalies related to the lateral spreading development. The geophysical data allow a confirmation and a completion of these interpretations. In particular, these data show that the tectonic action in the Cinque Torri area produced substantial changes in the strata bedding orientation which may have favored tilts and rotations of the uppermost brittle carbonates. At a final stage, in order to decipher slope behavior, a reliable slope model is derived from accurate geometrical surveys of the outcropped rocks, analysis of compositional, mechanical and physical properties of the involved lithotypes. The slope modeling shows that three major factors control the behavior of the Cinque Torri DSGSD: (i) the monolith weight; (ii) the stratigraphical heterogeneity, and (iii) the inclination of strata. Twodimensional finite difference and distinct-element modeling indicate small
displacements of the overall DSGSD, confirming the typical velocities of this type oflandslide. These computations provide a model able to describe the geometries and gravitational mechanisms acting within the investigated slope.
The results of the field observations, rotational components analysis and numerical models suggest that the Cinque Torri DSGSD involves a complex mechanism with a rotational component of the movement, and a probable differentiation of the sliding surface of the DSGSD into segments with different amounts of rotation. In addition, the plastic deformation within the cohesive layers induces tilts, rotations and displacements of the topmost monoliths.The results achieved during this research provide a comprehensive scheme of geometries and processes acting within the Cinque Torri slope. The obtained information can be used for hazard assessment purposes.

Abstract (italian)

IL territorio dolomitico è spesso interessato da fenomeni franosi di diversa entità che possono coinvolgere comunità e infrastrutture. Da ciò deriva la necessità di valutare costantemente le condizioni di instabilità, dunque di rischio, delle aree montane, al fine di poter predisporre adeguate misure di salvaguardia. Come dimostrato nella presente tesi di dottorato, l’analisi dei processi gravitativi avvenuti nel passato può essere importante per la comprensione dei fenomeni attuali o recenti, sia in termini di processo, sia in termini di volumi coinvolti. In genere, i fenomeni gravitativi possono essere decifrati attraverso il riconoscimento di un criterio geometrico che relazioni le porzioni di pendio mobilitate dal processo gravitativo, e che perciò fornisca indicazioni sull’assetto del pendio antecedente l’instabilità. Al fine di una corretta analisi delle dinamiche di versante è perciò fondamentale definire inizialmente geometrie e proprietà delle litologie che caratterizzano il pendio instabile.
Tra i molteplici fenomeni gravitativi esistenti in natura, le Deformazioni Gravitative Profonde di Versante (DGPV) rappresentano tutt’oggi un argomento di ampia discussione.
La presente tesi di dottorato si occupa dell’analisi dei fenomeni instabilità nell’area turistica del gruppo Cinque Torri (Dolomiti bellunesi, Alpi orientali, Italia). Un'ipotesi avvalorata dai precedenti studi vede il pendio su cui poggia il gruppo roccioso coinvolto da un processo di DGPV ampio, la cui espressione superficiale è rappresentata dall’espandimento laterale dei torrioni dolomitici a monte. Il recente crollo della Torre Trephor, uno dei monoliti carbonatici che costituiscono il gruppo, avvenuto nel 2004, ha dato inizio ad un complesso studio scientifico concernente il monitoraggio dei settori più instabili e la caratterizzazione dei fenomeni d’instabilità attuali e passati come strumento di predizione e valutazione della pericolosità dell’area.
Le attività di ricerca si inseriscono in questo quadro come strumento di analisi approfondita delle dinamiche passate e in atto dell’espandimento laterale delle Cinque Torri. I processi gravitativi, così come la geomorfologia dell’area esaminata, sono strettamente legati all’assetto tettonico locale e alle caratteristiche meccaniche delle litologie ivi presenti. Difatti la DGPV dell’area Cinque Torri trova origine dal contrasto di competenza fra litologie a comportamento fragile (livelli carbonatici) e litologie a comportamento duttile (livelli marnosi).
Il punto chiave della ricerca vede lo sviluppo di una nuova metodologia di analisi basata sulla trattazione di dati geometrici derivati da acquisizioni laser scanner.
Nella fase finale di ricerca, l’introduzione di modelli numerici promuove un’analisi delle dinamiche in atto nel pendio offrendo uno strumento di validazione delle interpretazioni ottenute dall’analisi dei dati geometrici. Inoltre, l’approccio numerico permette la valutazione del grado di influenza di alcuni fattori predisponenti la DGPV in esame.
Le fasi del progetto di ricerca volte alla caratterizzazione di forme e processi nell’area in esame, possono essere così riassunte:
1. Identificazione dei principali sistemi di discontinuità degli affioramenti rocciosi attraverso l’uso di dati laser scanner (terrestre e aereo) e successiva validazione attraverso rilievi tradizionali di campagna;
2. Classificazione delle proprietà delle litologie coinvolte ottenuta da rilievi di campagna e prove di laboratorio;
3. Indagini geofisiche (tomografia elettrica e rilievi di sismica passiva) per l’identificazione indiretta dell’assetto strutturale del sottosuolo.
4. Utilizzo del pacchetto software sperimentale Coltop-3D (Jaboyedoff, 2007) per la caratterizzazione delle discontinuità e distinzione tra discontinuità tettoniche e gravitative e, inoltre, introduzione del software sperimentale PCM (Vosselman, 2004) per la caratterizzazione geometrica delle principali famiglie di discontinuità come criterio di confronto con il dato di campagna;
5. Correlazione strutturale tra monoliti rocciosi;
6. Calcolo delle componenti rotazionali dell’espandimento laterale in atto, allo scopo di predire future instabilità e di interpretare le strutture sepolte;
7. Modellazione numerica della DGPV, realizzata attraverso codici di calcolo agli elementi disstinti (UDEC, 4.1) e agli elementi finiti (Plaxis, 8.5). Paragonando i risultati ottenuti dalla modellazione numerica e le interpretazioni derivate dall’analisi delle componenti rotazionali si è potuto così ottenere un modello concettuale delle instabilità attuali e future.
In particolare, il risultato più significativo di questa tesi riguarda l’utilizzo dei rapporti geometrici esistenti fra le discontinuità tettoniche per l’analisi indiretta dei movimenti gravitativi. Infatti, attraverso l’analisi del dato laser scanner sono state ricostruite le componenti rotazionali dei movimenti che hanno determinato l’attuale assetto del gruppo Cinque Torri. Alla base di questa innovativa trattazione c’è il rilievo geometrico ad alta risoluzione, ottenuto attraverso l’impiego di tecniche laser scanner. Nel giugno 2008 infatti, la geometria del gruppo Cinque Torri è stata acquisita totalmente grazie un laser scanner terrestre (LST) a lunga portata ed inoltre un’acquisizione laser da aereo ha permesso di completare l’informazione geometrica sulle aree circostanti il gruppo roccioso. La combinazione dei due tipi di dato ha garantito la creazione di un modello geometrico multi-scala dell’area, con particolare attenzione alla rappresentazione di superfici planari sia orizzontali, sia verticali. Grazie a questo metodo sono state identificate le famiglie di discontinuità esistenti in ciascun monolite, successivamente correlate con dei set di riferimento estratti da affioramenti rocciosi esterni alla DGPV. Da tali correlazioni sono state poi dedotte le componenti angolari di spostamento dei set individuati rispetto a quelli di riferimento, fornendo le basi per nuova interpretazione dei fenomeni gravitativi in atto. Dai risultati della ricerca si evince che le dinamiche del pendio sono inizialmente controllate dalle principali direttrici tettoniche, che di fatto hanno frammentato il gruppo roccioso secondo chiare leggi geometriche. In una fase successiva la suddivisione del gruppo e l'allontanamento dei monoliti sono indotti dalla DGPV e da anomalie locali topografiche (legate con buona probabilità alla sviluppo dell’espandimento laterale).
Questa interpretazione ha trovato riscontro nei risultati delle indagini geofisiche condotte nell’area in studio. Tali indagini hanno evidenziato il quadro tettonico del pendio sottostante il gruppo Cinque Torri, mettendo in luce dislocazioni metriche verticali subite dalla stratigrafia. E' ragionevole ipotizzare che questi gradini strutturali influenzino in parte le rotazioni e i basculamenti in atto nel gruppo Cinque Torri.
L’ultima parte della tesi è dedicata alla modellazione numerica del pendio, realizzata attraverso l’uso dell’accurato modello geometrico fornito dalle acquisizioni laser scanner e dai risultati delle prove di laboratorio e di campagna attuate per la caratterizzazione delle litologie coinvolte. La modellazione numerica ha evidenziato che i fattori che maggiormente influenzano l’instabilità del pendio in studio risiedono nell’azione della forza peso agente sul pendio ad opera dei monoliti, nell’eterogeneità stratigrafica e nell’inclinazione degli strati. Inoltre, i risultati di tali modelli numerici confermano le interpretazioni dedotte dallo studio delle componenti rotazionali sulla geometria della DGPV.
In conclusione la tesi proposta fornisce un modello interpretativo dei fenomeni gravitativi dell’area Cinque Torri, che coinvolgono deformazioni gravitative profonde con componente pseudo-circolare e significative deformazioni plastiche all’interno degli strati marnosi. Queste ultime inducono basculamenti, rotazioni e traslazioni nelle porzioni sommitali del pendio, in altre parole, l’espandimento laterale.
L’insieme dei risultati così raggiunto fornisce un quadro nuovo per l’identificazione dei controlli strutturali e la comprensione dei processi agenti all’interno del pendio Cinque Torri, da cui un valido strumento per la valutazione e mitigazione del rischio.

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EPrint type:Ph.D. thesis
Supervisor:PRETO, NEREO
Ph.D. course:Ciclo 23 > Scuole per il 23simo ciclo > SCIENZE DELLA TERRA
Data di deposito della tesi:UNSPECIFIED
Anno di Pubblicazione:31 January 2011
Key Words:Cinque Torri; Lateral spreading; Deep-seated Gravitational Slope Deformations; Rock Discontinuities; Rotation Angles; Laser Scanner; Applied Geophysics; Numerical Modeling.
Settori scientifico-disciplinari MIUR:Area 04 - Scienze della terra > GEO/05 Geologia applicata
Struttura di riferimento:Dipartimenti > Dipartimento di Geoscienze
Codice ID:3834
Depositato il:21 Jul 2011 11:38
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