Analysis of microseismic signals and temperature recordings for rock slope stability investigations in high mountain areas
The permafrost degradation is a probable cause for the increase of rock instabilities and rock falls observed in recent years in high mountain areas, particularly in the Alpine region. The phenomenon causes the thaw of the ice filling rock discontinuities; the water deriving from it subsequently freezes again inducing stresses in the rock mass that may lead, in the long term, to rock falls. To investigate these processes, a monitoring system composed by geophones and thermometers was installed in 2007 at the Carrel hut (3829 m a.s.l., Matterhorn, NW Alps). In 2010, in the framework of the Interreg 2007–2013 Alcotra project no. 56 MASSA, the monitoring system has been empowered and renovated in order to meet project needs.
In this paper, the data recorded by this renewed system between 6 October 2010 and 5 October 2011 are presented and 329 selected microseismic events are analysed. The data processing has concerned the classification of the recorded signals, the analysis of their distribution in time and the identification of the most important trace characteristics in time and frequency domain. The interpretation of the results has evidenced a possible correlation between the temperature trend and the event occurrence.
The research is still in progress and the data recording and interpretation are planned for a longer period to better investigate the spatial-temporal distribution of microseismic activity in the rock mass, with specific attention to the relation of microseismic activity with temperatures. The overall goal is to verify the possibility to set up an effective monitoring system for investigating the stability of a rock mass under permafrost conditions, in order to supply the researchers with useful data to better understand the relationship between temperature and rock mass stability and, possibly, the technicians with a valid tool for decision-making.