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Hydrogeological and geophysical properties of the very-slow-moving Ripley Landslide, Thompson River valley, British Columbia

Publication: Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences
20 August 2020


Landslides along a 10 km reach of Thompson River south of Ashcroft, British Columbia, have repeatedly damaged vital railway infrastructure, while also placing public safety, the environment, natural resources, and cultural heritage features at risk. Government agencies, universities, and the railway industry are focusing research efforts on a representative test site — the very-slow-moving Ripley Landslide — to manage better the geohazard risk in this corridor. We characterize the landslide’s form and function through hydrogeological and geophysical mapping. Field mapping and exploratory drilling distinguish 10 hydrogeological units in surficial deposits and fractured bedrock. Electrical resistivity tomography, frequency domain electromagnetic conductivity measurements, ground-penetrating radar, seismic pressure wave refraction, and multispectral analysis of shear waves; in conjunction with downhole measurement of natural gamma radiation, induction conductivity, and magnetic susceptibility provide a detailed, static picture of soil moisture and groundwater conditions within the hydrogeological units. Differences in electrical resistivity of the units reflect a combination of hydrogeological characteristics and climatic factors, namely temperature and precipitation. Resistive earth materials include dry glaciofluvial outwash and nonfractured bedrock; whereas glaciolacustrine clay and silt, water-bearing fractured bedrock, and periodically saturated subglacial till and outwash are conductive. Dynamic, continuous real-time monitoring of electrical resistivity, now underway, will help characterize water-flow paths, and possible relationships to independently monitor pore pressures and slope creep. These new hydrogeological and geophysical data sets enhance understanding of the composition and internal structure of this landslide and provide important context to interpret multiyear slope stability monitoring ongoing in the valley.


Les glissements de terrain le long d’un tronçon de 10 km de la rivière Thompson au sud d’Ashcroft (Colombie-Britannique) ont causé des dommages à répétition à des infrastructures ferroviaires essentielles, tout en posant des risques pour la sécurité du public, le milieu ambiant, des ressources naturelles et des éléments du patrimoine culturel. Des agences gouvernementales, des universités et le secteur ferroviaire ont axé des efforts de recherche sur un site d’essai représentatif, le glissement très lent de Ripley, afin de mieux gérer les géorisques le long de ce corridor. Nous caractérisons la forme et la fonction de ce glissement à la lumière de la cartographie hydrogéologique et géophysique. La cartographie de terrain et le forage d’exploration permettent de distinguer 10 unités hydrogéologiques dans les dépôts de surface et le roc fracturé. La tomographie électrique, des mesures de conductivité électromagnétique en domaine de fréquence, le géoradar, la réfraction des ondes sismiques de compression et l’analyse multispectrale des ondes de cisaillement, combinés à la mesure au fond de puits du rayonnement gamma naturel, de la conductivité par induction et de la susceptibilité magnétique, fournissent un portait statique détaillé de l’eau dans le sol et des conditions associées à l’eau souterraine dans les unités hydrogéologiques. Les différences de résistivité électrique entre unités reflètent une combinaison de caractéristiques hydrogéologiques et de facteurs climatiques, à savoir la température et les précipitations. Les matériaux résistifs comprennent des dépôts d’épandage fluvioglaciaire secs et le roc non fracturé, alors que les argiles et silts glaciolacustres, le roc fracturé contenant de l’eau et du till infraglaciaire et des dépôts d’épandage périodiquement saturés sont conducteurs. La surveillance continue et dynamique en temps réel de la résistivité électrique actuellement en cours aidera à caractériser les voies d’écoulement de l’eau et les relations possibles avec la pression interstitielle et la reptation de talus, qui font l’objet d’une surveillance indépendante. Ces nouveaux ensembles de données hydrogéologiques et géophysiques améliorent la compréhension de la composition et de la structure interne de ce glissement de terrain et fournissent un important contexte pour l’interprétation des données issues de la surveillance pluriannuelle de la stabilité en cours dans la vallée. [Traduit par la Rédaction]

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Published In

cover image Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences
Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences
Volume 57Number 12December 2020
Pages: 1371 - 1391


Received: 1 October 2019
Accepted: 4 April 2020
Version of record online: 20 August 2020


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Key Words

  1. surficial mapping
  2. geophysical surveys
  3. landslide
  4. geohazard monitoring
  5. British Columbia


  1. cartographie de surface
  2. levés géophysiques
  3. glissement de terrain
  4. surveillance des géorisques
  5. Colombie-Britannique



David Huntley [email protected]
Geological Survey of Canada, Vancouver, BC V6B 5J3, Canada.
Jessica Holmes
Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast BT7 1NN, Northern Ireland.
British Geological Survey, Nottingham NG12 5GG, UK.
Peter Bobrowsky
Geological Survey of Canada, Sidney, BC V8L 4B2, Canada.
Jonathan Chambers
British Geological Survey, Nottingham NG12 5GG, UK.
Philip Meldrum
British Geological Survey, Nottingham NG12 5GG, UK.
Paul Wilkinson
British Geological Survey, Nottingham NG12 5GG, UK.
Shane Donohue
University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland.
David Elwood
University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK V8L 4B2, Canada.
Kelvin Sattler
University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK V8L 4B2, Canada.
Michael Hendry
University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB V8L 4B2, Canada.
Renato Macciotta
University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB V8L 4B2, Canada.
Nicholas J. Roberts
Mineral Resources Tasmania, Department of State Growth, Rosny Park, 7001 Australia.


© 2020 Authors Donohue, Elwood, Sattler, Hendry, Macciotta, and Roberts; Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Natural Resources; and the British Geological Survey. Permission for reuse (free in most cases) can be obtained from

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