Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2012, Vol. 22 ›› Issue (4): 617-629.doi: 10.1007/s11442-012-0951-0

• Climate Change • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Statistical and environmental analyses for the definition of a regional rainfall threshold system for landslide triggering in Tuscany (Italy)

ROSI Ascanio, SEGONI Samuele, CATANI Filippo, CASAGLI Nicola   

  1. Department of Earth Science, University of Florence, Florence, Italy
  • Received:2011-03-16 Revised:2012-02-20 Online:2012-08-15 Published:2012-07-10
  • Supported by:

    University of Firenze, Earth Science Department, Firenze, Italy


The aim of this work is the determination of regional-scale rainfall thresholds for the triggering of landslides in the Tuscany Region (Italy). The critical rainfall events related to the occurrence of 593 past landslides were characterized in terms of duration (D) and intensity (I). I and D values were plotted in a log-log diagram and a lower boundary was clearly noticeable: it was interpreted as a threshold representing the rainfall conditions associated to landsliding. That was also confirmed by a comparison with many literature thresholds, but at the same time it was clear that a similar threshold would be affected by a too large approximation to be effectively used for a regional warning system. Therefore, further analyses were performed differentiating the events on the basis of seasonality, magnitude, location, land use and lithology. None of these criteria led to discriminate among all the events different groups to be characterized by a specific and more effective threshold. This outcome could be interpreted as the demonstration that at regional scale the best results are obtained by the simplest approach, in our case an empirical black box model which accounts only for two rainfall parameters (I and D). So a set of thresholds could be conveniently defined using a statistical approach: four thresholds corresponding to four severity levels were defined by means of the prediction interval technique and we developed a prototype warning system based on rainfall recordings or weather forecasts.

Key words: landslide, threshold, rainfall, black box models, prediction intervals