Skip to content

Thomas Telford Prestige Paper series: the Ruedlingen field experiment

Event organised by ICE

17 April 2023

This event has now ended

You can catch-up on details or any broadcast and downloads here.


This is the first Lecture in the Thomas Telford Prestige Paper series, showcasing award winning papers. This paper upon which this lecture is based, won the George Stepheson Medal at the 2022 ICE Awards Ceremony.

The lecture 'Hydro-mechanical analysis of a surficial landslide triggered by artificial rainfall: the Ruedlingen field experiment' overviews the relevance of shallow landslides induced by rainfall.

In detail, it interprets the hydromechanical behaviour of a steep, forested, instrumented slope during an artificial rainfall event, which triggered a shallow slope failure 15h after rainfall initiation. The soil’s mechanical response has been simulated by coupled hydro-mechanical finite-element analyses using a critical state constitutive model extended to unsaturated conditions. Failure occurs within a colluvium shallow soil cover, characterised as a silty sand of low plasticity. The hydraulic and mechanical parameters are calibrated based on an extended set of experimental results, ranging from water retention curve measurements to triaxial stress path tests under saturated and unsaturated conditions.

Rainfall is simulated as a water flux at the soil surface and suitable boundary conditions account for the hydromechanical interaction between the soil cover and the underlying bedrock. The results are compared with field data of the mechanistic and the hydraulic responses up to failure and are found to provide a very satisfactory prediction.

The study identifies water exfiltration from bedrock fissures as the main triggering agent, resulting in increased pore pressures along the soil–bedrock interface, reduced available shear strength and cause extensive plastic straining, leading to the formation and propagation of a failure surface.

Geotechnique cover

Hydro-mechanical analysis of a surficial landslide triggered by artificial rainfall: the Ruedlingen field experiment

Download your pdf copy of the paper to read before watching.

View paper


16:45 - 17:00


17:00 - 17:05

Welcome from chair

17:05 - 17:55


17:55 - 18:15

Q&A session

18:15 - 18:20

Summation and closing remarks


Event closes


Professor Matthew Coop

Professor Matthew Coop

ICE Géotechnique Journal Editorial Panel


Read more

Professor Matthew Coop

Matthew has about 40 years research experience, concentrating on the behaviour of soils and weak rocks as revealed through high quality laboratory testing. Following industrial experience in offshore foundations and his Doctorate on the behaviour of offshore piles at Oxford University under the supervision of Peter Wroth he was a lecturer/senior lecturer at City University, London before moving to Imperial College in 2000, where he became professor in 2007.

In 2010 Matthew moved to the City University of Hong Kong where he established a laboratory specialising in the micro-mechanics of soils returning to London in 2016 to University College. In 2003 he delivered the Géotechnique Lecture.

He is the current chair of TC101 of the ISSMGE, for the laboratory testing of soils. He was the founding editor of Géotechnique Letters, the current editor in chief of Géotechnique and is the author of over 110 journal papers which have been awarded ten major research prizes.

Professor Francesca Casini

Professor Francesca Casini

University of Rome Tor Vergata

associate professor of geotechnics

Read more

Professor Francesca Casini

Francesca Casini is Associate Professor of Geotechnics at Università di Roma Tor Vergata.

Her research expertise spans from fundamental soil mechanics in saturated and unsaturated conditions, including thermal loading and its relevance to engineering applications. She has been Early Stage Researcher Marie Curie (ESR) within the MUSE (Mechanics of Unsaturated Soils for Engineering) project (2006-7) and Experienced Researcher Marie Curie (ER- Intra European Fellowship) working on Numerical Modelling of Artificial Ground Freezing (AGF) at Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya (UPC) Barcelona (Spain).

She has been research fellow (post-doc) at ETH Zurich working on the triggering mechanism of shallow landslides induced by rainfall (2008-2011).  Since then, the main thrust of her research has been on the applications of soil mechanics, also in unsaturated conditions, to geotechnical engineering, and has dealt mainly with thermo-hydro-mechanical couplings in soils.

Since 2014 to 2015 she has been an assistant professor (ricercatore t.d. b) at Università di Roma Tor Vergata in the Civil Engineering Department and Associate professor from 2015 to date.

She has been awarded a grant, Programma per Giovani Ricercatori “Rita Levi Montalcini”, by the Italian Ministry of Education, University, and Research (MIUR). Her research has received financial support from national and international funding agencies, including the Italian Ministry of University and Research, the European Commission, and by industry.  She has been the PI of the FROZEN project (2015-17) on the design of a new triaxial apparatus working with temperatures below zero. The prototype has been patented at national level.

She is member of TC308 (energy Geotechnics) of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE). She has been member of Géotechnique Advisory Panel (GAP 2018-21), ICE London.  At the moment, she is PI of a project on the effects of cycles of wetting and drying due to the Tiber river level variation on the historical building foundations.

Professor Amin Askarinejad

Professor Amin Askarinejad

Delft University of Technology/Swiss Federal Office of Energy

associate professor/geotechnical expert

Read more

Professor Amin Askarinejad

Dr Amin Askarinejad is a geotechnical expert at the Swiss Federal Office of Energy. Additionally, he has been Assistant and then Associate Professor of Soil Mechanics at Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, since 2014.

He received his Doctoral degree from ETH Zurich in 2013 and has more than 15 years of experience in geotechnical engineering with a focus on monitoring of structures, modelling of geotechnical failure mechanisms and soil-foundation interactions for renewable energies. He has been involved in several international industrial and academic research projects in Switzerland, Brazil, the Netherlands and in the framework of the European Union.

Dr Askarinejad has been one of the leading researchers of the European project GEOLAB and the senior PI of the Dutch project "BLUE Piling" as well as the co-leader of the international project on the cyclic behaviour of offshore foundations for renewable energy (MIDAS). He is the representative of the Netherlands in the technical committees TC208 (slope stability) and TC104 (geotechnical physical modelling) of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE).

He is editor for the Journal of Landslides (Springer Nature) and the International Journal of Physical Modelling in Geotechnics. Dr Askarinejad is also member of a working group on retaining structures in the framework of the Swiss Committee on Dams.

In 2017 and 2018 he received the best teacher award in Geotechnical Engineering MSc track at TU Delft. In 2018, Dr Askarinejad was recognised as a promising young Geotechnical Engineer and Academic by the ISSMGE and received the Bright Spark Lecture award. He has published more than 100 scientific articles and in 2019 one of his papers received honourable mention for the prestigious R.M. Quigley Award by the Canadian Geotechnical Society. In 2022 Dr Askarinejad and his co-authors received the premium award of George Stephenson Medal from the Institute of Civil Engineers in London for research on triggering mechanisms of landslides