The Landslide Risk module

This module addresses landslide risk assessment. Description and characterization and mechanisms of slope movements, such as landslide, rock instabilities and debris flows will be discussed. An overview of hazard, risk assessment and mapping will be provided, including empirical and modeling approaches. Protective measures will be discussed.

Teaching Team

  • Michel Jaboyedoff (Rock Instabilities) - MODULE RESPONSIBLE
  • Brian McArdell (Debris flows)
  • Ivanna Penna (Landslides)



At the end of this module, participants will be able to:

  • classify relevant landslides hazard(s) and their physical characteristics (magnitude─ energy spent, intensity─ rate of energy release), spatial characteristics (location), and temporal characteristics (diurnal, seasonal, decadal)
  • acquire the basics of the theory that are used to describe and model  landslides
  • identify the linkages between landslide hazards and their trigger factors such as storms, earthquakes, etc.  
  • elaborate a hazard map, identifying the elements at risks and perform a risk assessment after field observations,
  • develop methods to cope and manage risk, including land-use planning in landslides-prone areas, early-warning system and structural and non-structural measures
  • discuss the risk management and policies at the local level 


Associated Field Trips

“Les Diablerets/Ormont-Dessus” is a high mountain village set in the heart of the Alps, at the foot of a mountain range capped by a glacier. This region is a classic spot of the alpine geology within the Helvetic Nappes, a succession of Triassic to Tertiary sediments detached from the crystalline basement and pushed northward by the alpine front. This area is located in the upper part of the watershed of La Grande Eau River, flowing down to the city of Aigle in the Rhone Valley. In this area landslides, debris-flows and floods already started 10’000 years ago after the retreat of the glacier. In 2005 and 2009 highly saturated floods significantly affected the “Les Diablerets” village. A significant amount of materials transported by the Dar river was initially produced by landslides or accumulated by debris-flows, a situation that can be observed all over the world. This situation is a challenge for land-planning, because in the context of climate change affecting strongly the mountainous areas, there is a need to improve and re-think about most appropriate mitigation measures. During the field work, using the Dar catchment as a natural laboratory, participants will focus on the assessment of surface processes (such as slides, debris flows and flows), the flood hazard and risk assessment downstream as well as the potential consequences for the development and land-use planning of this area. They will also have to propose improvement of or new mitigation measures (structural, non-structural, early warning).


View on the source of the Dar River (les Diablerets, Switzerland)


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