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GEO3144 : Landslides (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Stuart Dunning
  • Co-Module Leader: Dr Mark Kincey
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


Rationale: Mountainous relief is generated by the interaction of tectonics and climate, with the balance responsible for the net change of a landscape’s relief and elevation. The potential of rivers and glaciers to erode (or protect) mountainous landscapes in response to tectonic and climatic forcing has been the focus of much work, with hillslope processes often assumed to respond passively.

In reality, hillslope processes are fundamental drivers of change, and, a significant threat to life and infrastructure. The ability of landslides to transfer sufficient mass to keep pace with fluvial and glacial downcutting and tectonic uplift is not well constrained and is dependent upon characterising their long-term magnitude-frequency. This magnitude-frequency has direct implications for those living, or passing through steep terrain, and those tasked with minimising the threats to life and infrastructure though avoidance, or engineering. This module will explore the conceptual models of long-term slope evolution, our approaches to monitoring and modelling failure, and the varied approaches to landslide hazard and risk mitigation/management. Students will gain field and computer based skills in data collection, processing and numerically modelling that are all applied in nature, and well-suited for UK and international employment in the sector.

Aims: This module aims to develop knowledge and understanding of the principles, theory and practice of hillslope professionals and researchers, applied geomorphology, monitoring and modelling, and, varied approaches to engineering or societal mitigation.

Outline Of Syllabus

The Syllabus will cover some of:

Introduction to hillslope processes, landscape to slope scale
Magnitude-frequency and how to measure it over varied timescales
Quantifying landslide hazard and risk
The mechanics of failure
Failure modelling – how safe is your slope?
Landslide runout modelling – how far, how fast?
Microscale / analogue modelling of debris flows
Extraordinary landslides?
Landslides and society, willingness and abilities to intervene
Mitigation: techniques, challenges and societal risk
Landslides and climate change
Landslides and glaciers - I see no cirques or moraines, just landslides
Landslide dams, and their outburst floods
The landslide sediment cascade
Finding lost landslides in the sedimentary records
Monitoring and instrumentation

Practicals, in each year we will deliver practicals from a selection of the following themes:

Microscale modelling of debris flows (desktop flume modelling)
Magnitude-frequency relationships (desktop analogue landslides)
Differencing 3D models to detect landslides (GIS)
Runout modelling (numerical) of large rock avalanches/debris flows
Landslide stability modelling (numerical model)
Landslide risk assessment (spreadsheet/GIS)
Rockfall runout and mitigation
Post-earthquake landslides in space and time
Monitoring data processing
Cloud-based computing for landslide problems (Google Earth Engine)

x1 day trips to ONE of the following locations: Yorkshire Coast, Lake District, Northumberland, Howgill Fells, S Scotland. Trip location is dependent upon recent landslide/coastal processes and engineering activity in the teaching year.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion167:0067:00Split between the two assessments: 1. students take further a choice of practical to work up; 2. students work as a group to produce the oral presentation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture91:009:00PiP Lectures
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading198:0098:00Reading and resources related to the assessments and practicals
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical62:0012:00IT based sessions. GIS, numerical modelling, online software use
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical22:004:00Laboratory based physical modelling
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork18:008:00Fieldwork (PIP)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery21:002:00Drop in session related to assessments.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will introduce key concepts across a range of spatial and temporal time-scales, and will utilise research and professional practice case-study examples.

Fieldwork will enable students to be trained in the use of cutting-edge data collection techniques and interpreting these data, and their practical application in mitigating landslide hazard and risk.

Practical classes will allow students to process data collected from fieldwork, analyse secondary data and recommend solutions – all based on real-world situations. The sessions allow students to learn experientially the key skills applicable for further research or employment in linked industries. Each practical is a mix of taught content and independent working with help and supervision.

Drop in sessions (online) linked to discussion boards will provide support with the practical completions and assessment preparation, as will a number lectures with in-class time devoted to assessment/practical support. In previous years this has led to more questions/requests for support than in-person drop-in help sessions.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report1M702500 words
Oral Examination1M30Oral examination. Group presentation to staff/peers.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The report assesses the ability of students to design an appropriate study, collect, analyze and present a range of primary and secondary data, and set this within the theoretical and practice context. The practical work builds upon fieldwork experience, so fieldwork is not independently assessed.

The oral presentation allows a group of students to work together to produce a critical evaluation of a chronic or acute landslide or coastal risk issue, chosen with staff guidance. It develops oral and presentation skills and allows engagement with a wide and up to date selection of literature and other non academic evidence.

Reading Lists