Early Investigation of a Landslide Sliding Surface by HVSR and VES Geophysical Techniques Combined, a Case Study in Guarumales (Ecuador)

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The access road to the powerhouse’s hydraulic system’s facilities in Guarumales (Azuay, Ecuador) presents a medium-sized landslide. Geophysical tests were conducted in the initial research stage, combining electrical and seismic methods. A vertical electrical sounding (VES) and horizontal to vertical spectral ratio (HVSR) survey campaign have been taken as a reference for the analysis of the landslide area. The distribution of these test points has been at three different levels along the landslide where the access road crosses it, trying to cover the area’s most extensive possible length and width. In the area, we find the geology dominated by the presence of schists, altered to different degrees and presenting blocks of material with a lower degree of alteration within colluvium formed by a clayey matrix and coarse material of the exact nature. There is also observed runoff water and groundwater in the area. The results obtained through SEV tests have allowed for defining the separation zone of the mobilized or sliding materials compared to the fixed or immobile ones (potentially, the sliding surface was marked). Using the HVSR technique, the natural vibration frequencies of the ground associated with the sliding mass (separation of seismic impedances between a two-layer model: mobile and fixed) have been determined. Previous authors proposed an empirical relationship establishing the exponential relationship, already proposed by previous authors, between sediment thickness and natural frequencies. It has been possible to determine the depth of the position of the loosely compacted sediment zone (and probably moving or mobilized) compared to that of compact materials (immobile) and thereby define the potential rupture surface.
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