Landslides triggered by Storm Desmond at the A83, Rest and Be Thankful, Scotland

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Geography Politics and Sociology

Abstract

Storm Desmond produced intense and prolonged rainfall which resulted in extensive flooding in the U.K. A number of landslides were also triggered, many of which damaged infrastructure and the transport network in particular. We are in a unique position, holding pre-event, and during event data for slopes that failed during and after Storm Desmond (Figs. 1, 2) at the most 'at risk' trunk road in Scotland1-3, the A83 Rest and Be Thankful (RABT), Argyll and Bute, which is a key arterial route. Since 2007 at least 13 debris flows have occurred, with road closures causing annual estimated losses of £286,300 to the local economy1-3. Existing monitoring (Fig. 1) has been invaluable in defining post-event conditions and sediment dynamics with instruments often installed after events, but there are no complete (pre- and post-) data on a single large event. This is essential in refining and validating physical and numerical modelling approaches, which can be used for enhanced management of the problem, and the design/refinement of appropriate monitoring and mitigation strategies that our project partners are responsible for putting into operation. Our proposal is to collect transient post-event data to allow follow-on funding proposals to answer the outstanding science questions, which are relevant for multiple sites beyond the RABT, and to document the transience of key evidence to inform how 'urgently' we do need respond to future large events to adequately quantify them.

Planned Impact

We have identified two groups of beneficiaries, the first of whom have direct operational management of the landslide problems at the A83 Rest and Be Thankful (RABT), the second group are the 'at risk' population, threatened directly by landslides when using the road, but also affected by road closures.

A83 Operational Stakeholders
Transport Scotland who have overall responsibility for the road network, and BEAR who are the operating company are named Project Partners, with one of the science objectives being feedback of our Urgent data collection products so that they can feed into operational management of the slope. We will undertake a site visit, and office visit with/to both, along with other stakeholders: Maccaferi Geotechnical (who have designed a number of the debris flow flexible barriers), and NavStar (also a Project Partner) who design bespoke monitoring/warning installations that can be commanded/controlled remotely. We will also run a stakeholder workshop. The deliverable from this workshop will be an assessment of the current monitoring / warning provision and a range of cost-benefit scenarios of future mitigation and monitoring solutions for the RABT, as one of many trunk road sites at risk from landslides.

A83 'At risk' Population
We wish to focus our impact activities on a particular subgroup - school children. We will produce a 'debris flow in a drainpipe' physical model as a classroom activity for the secondary schools in the vulnerability shadow, tailored to fit the new A-level and Scottish Highers Geography curriculum. In the first instance PI Dunning, and Co-I Lim, along with 4 final year undergraduate students (undertaking, or having completed classroom placements pre-PGCE application) will run the activity to pass the knowledge on to School teachers. The models allow for elements of project design, data collection and analyses, basic statistics, through to much deeper conceptual understandings of 'risk'. These experiments reinforce the STEM nature of Physical Geography, and the roles of Geographers, Geologists and Engineers in managing our natural environment.
 
Description We have discovered that between damaging rainfall triggered landslides at the Rest and Be Thankful that there is little reactivation of the source areas and deposits, and, little evidence of smaller, normally unrecorded landslide events that do not reach the road. Landslide scars begin to vegetate and stabilise between major storms, and, there is little evidence of masses of loose sediment ready to mobilise in future events - although there are a number of shallow translational landslides that appear to be creeping whose future is unknown.
Exploitation Route Best practice for short-term reactive and long-term proactive monitoring of unstable slopes.
Sectors Education,Environment

 
Description Our findings have fed into a monitoring report lodged with Transport Scotland, and to an invitation to discuss out work in progress with the Directors of Transport Scotland. This culminated in an invitation to bid to the Scottish Roads Research Board to take our work forward.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Environment,Transport
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Ongoing monitoring at the site
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact We were invited to participate in a meeting held by Transport Scotland to discuss the appropriate on-going monitoring of the landslide prone Rest and Be Thankful. As a result a further year of water table monitoring was agreed.
 
Description Landslide Mitigation Informatics (LIMIT): Effective decision-making for complex landslide geohazards.
Amount £120,043 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/T00567X/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2019 
End 10/2020
 
Description EU Horizon 2020 Consortium 
Organisation Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Country Hong Kong 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have joined a consortium bidding for Horizon 2020 funding (MG-7.1-2017: 'Resilience to extreme (natural and man-made) events'), with a title 'Identifying hot spots, Planning for disruptions, Monitoring for fast response, Minimizing recovery times and Ensuring Trust of users in transport systems at risk from extreme events (IP2MET)'.
Collaborator Contribution Collaborative bid preparation / submission.
Impact None yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description EU Horizon 2020 Consortium 
Organisation Transport Scotland
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We have joined a consortium bidding for Horizon 2020 funding (MG-7.1-2017: 'Resilience to extreme (natural and man-made) events'), with a title 'Identifying hot spots, Planning for disruptions, Monitoring for fast response, Minimizing recovery times and Ensuring Trust of users in transport systems at risk from extreme events (IP2MET)'.
Collaborator Contribution Collaborative bid preparation / submission.
Impact None yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description EU Horizon 2020 Consortium 
Organisation University of New Hampshire
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have joined a consortium bidding for Horizon 2020 funding (MG-7.1-2017: 'Resilience to extreme (natural and man-made) events'), with a title 'Identifying hot spots, Planning for disruptions, Monitoring for fast response, Minimizing recovery times and Ensuring Trust of users in transport systems at risk from extreme events (IP2MET)'.
Collaborator Contribution Collaborative bid preparation / submission.
Impact None yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description EU Horizon 2020 Consortium 
Organisation University of Strathclyde
Department Mathematics and Statistics Strathclyde
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have joined a consortium bidding for Horizon 2020 funding (MG-7.1-2017: 'Resilience to extreme (natural and man-made) events'), with a title 'Identifying hot spots, Planning for disruptions, Monitoring for fast response, Minimizing recovery times and Ensuring Trust of users in transport systems at risk from extreme events (IP2MET)'.
Collaborator Contribution Collaborative bid preparation / submission.
Impact None yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Transport Scotland / BEAR meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Workshops / open meetings with Transport Scotland, BEAR (operating company), Transport Research Laboratories and Strathclyde University.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017