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01-10-2012 | Original Article | Issue 3/2012

Environmental Earth Sciences 3/2012

A study of the correlation between electrical resistivity and matric suction for unsaturated ash-fall pyroclastic soils in the Campania region (southern Italy)

Journal:
Environmental Earth Sciences > Issue 3/2012
Authors:
P. De Vita, R. Di Maio, E. Piegari

Abstract

In the territory of the Campania region (southern Italy), critical rainfall events periodically trigger dangerous fast slope movements involving ashy and pyroclastic soils originated by the explosive phases of the Mt. Somma-Vesuvius volcano and deposited along the surrounding mountain ranges. In this paper, an integration of engineering-geological and geophysical measurements is presented to characterize unsaturated pyroclastic samples collected in a test area on the Sarno Mountains (Salerno and Avellino provinces, Campania region). The laboratory analyses were aimed at defining both soil water retention and electrical resistivity curves versus water content. From the matching of the experimental data, a direct relationship between electrical resistivity and matric suction is retrieved for the investigated soil horizons typical of an ash-fall pyroclastic succession. The obtained relation turns out to be helpful in characterizing soils up to close saturation, which is a critical condition for the trigger of slope failure. In such a regime, the water content and the matric suction have small variations, while electrical resistivity variations can be appreciated in a larger range of values. For this reason, besides suction measurements on very small soil volumes through classical tensiometers, our analyses suggest the direct monitoring of in situ electrical resistivity values as an effective tool to recognise the hydrological state of larger and more representative soil volumes and to improve early warning of dangerous slope movements.

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