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In July 2006, approximately 2 million m3 of massive limestone began to move on the east flank of the Eiger in central Switzerland. For more than two years after the initial failure, the rock mass moved at rates of up to 70 cm per day. A detailed analysis of the structures and velocities of the different moving blocks was conducted with the aid of terrestrial laser scanning. The moving rock mass included a rear block that subsided, pushing a frontal block forward. Movement directions were controlled by discontinuity sets that formed wedges bounded on one side by sub-vertical bedding planes. The instability was, until recently, buttressed by a glacier. Slope observations and results of continuum and discontinuum modeling indicate that the structure of the rock mass and topography were the main causes of the instability. Progressive weathering and mechanical fatigue of the rock mass appear to have led to the failure. A dynamic analytical model further indicates that the rockslide was primarily controlled by a reduction in the strength of discontinuities, the effects of ice deformation, and – to a limited extent – groundwater flow. This study shows that realistic and simple instability models can be constructed for rock-slope failures if high-resolution data are available.
In 1903, more than 30 million m3 of rock fell from the east slopes of Turtle Mountain in Alberta, Canada, causing a rock avalanche that killed about 70 people in the town of Frank. The Alberta Government, in response to continuing instabilities at the crest of the mountain, established a sophisticated field laboratory where state-of-the-art monitoring techniques have been installed and tested as part of an early-warning system. In this chapter, we provide an overview of the causes, trigger, and extreme mobility of the landslide. We then present new data relevant to the characterization and detection of the present-day instabilities on Turtle Mountain. Fourteen potential instabilities have been identified through field mapping and remote sensing. Lastly, we provide a detailed review of the different in-situ and remote monitoring systems that have been installed on the mountain. The implications of the new data for the future stability of Turtle Mountain and related landslide runout, and for monitoring strategies and risk management, are discussed.