15 Aug 2022
15 Aug 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESurf.

Geology and vegetation control landsliding on forest-managed slopes in scarplands

Daniel Draebing1,2, Tobias Gebhard1, and Miriam Pheiffer1 Daniel Draebing et al.
  • 1Chair of Geomorphology, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, 95447, Germany
  • 2Department of Physical Geography, Utrecht University, Utrecht, 3584 CB, Netherlands

Abstract. Landslides are important agents of sediment transport, cause hazards and are key agents for the evolution of scarplands. To analyse geologic and vegetation control on landsliding, we investigated three landslides in the Franconian scarplands. We used geomorphic mapping, soil analysis, electrical resistivity and a mechanical stability model to quantify the stability state of the landslides. Furthermore, we mapped tree distribution, quantified rooted area and root tensile strength to assess the influence of vegetation on shallow landsliding. Our results show that landslides are deep-seated incorporating rotational and translational movement with sliding along a geologic boundary between permeable Rhätolias sandstone and impermeable Feuerletten clays. Despite low slope angles, landslides could be reactivated when high pore pressures could develop due to geologic conditions. In contrast, shallow landsliding is controlled by vegetation. Our results show that rooted area is more important than species dependent root tensile strength and limited to the upper 0.5 m of the surface due to geologically controlled unfavourable soil conditions. Due to low slope inclination, root cohesion can stabilize landslide toes or slopes undercut by forest roads, independent of potential soil cohesion, when tree density is sufficient dense. Forest management currently adapts forests to climate change by diversifying tree species and introducing European beech, which would increase slope stability when sufficient rooted area is reached. Forestry activities should aim to keep a certain tree density to enable sufficient root cohesion that prevent landslide activity between harvesting or adaption periods. In summary, geological conditions in scarplands favour landslide activity and influence vegetation control on landslide activity, which suggest a combined forest and hazard management should be applied to prevent future landsliding.

Daniel Draebing et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on esurf-2022-46', Anonymous Referee #1, 14 Sep 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on esurf-2022-46', Anonymous Referee #2, 22 Sep 2022

Daniel Draebing et al.

Daniel Draebing et al.


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Short summary
Scarpland formation can produce low-inclined slopes susceptible to landsliding due to sedimentary layers. These slopes are often used by forestry activities, however, the interaction between geology and vegetation controlling landslides is not recognized yet but important to manage forests and landsliding in a changing climate. In our manuscript, we quantified the geologic and vegetation control in the Franconian Scarplands to enable forest managers to mitigate landslide hazards.