Wildfires can significantly affect mountain hillslopes through the combustion of trees and shrubs and changes in soil properties. The type and magnitude of the associated post-fire effects depend on several factors, including fire severity and soil physical-mechanical-hydraulic features that, coupled with climate and topographic conditions, may cause increased runoff, erosion, and slope instability as consequence of intense rainfall. The post-fire response of slopes is highly site-specific. Therefore, in situ surveys and laboratory tests are needed to quantify changes in key soil parameters. The present study documents the post-fire physical and hydromechanical properties of pyroclastic topsoil collected from three test sites that suffered wildfires and rainfall-induced post-fire events in 2019 and 2020 in the Sarno Mountains (Campania Region, southern Italy). The tested pyroclastic soils in burned conditions show (i) no significant changes in grain size distribution, soil organic matter, and specific gravity; (ii) a deterioration in shear strength in terms of decreased soil cohesion caused by the fire-induced weakening of root systems; and (iii) a decrease in hydraulic conductivity. Accordingly, it can be argued that the documented post-fire erosion responses were mainly caused by the reduced cohesion and hydraulic conductivity of the burned topsoil layer, as well as by the loss of vegetation cover and the deposition of fire residues. Although deserving further deepening, this study can represent the necessary background for understanding the initiation mechanism of post-fire erosion processes in the analyzed area and on several natural slopes under similar conditions.

Clues of wildfire-induced geotechnical changes in volcanic soils affected by post-fire slope instabilities

Peduto, D;Iervolino, L
;
Foresta, V;
2022

Abstract

Wildfires can significantly affect mountain hillslopes through the combustion of trees and shrubs and changes in soil properties. The type and magnitude of the associated post-fire effects depend on several factors, including fire severity and soil physical-mechanical-hydraulic features that, coupled with climate and topographic conditions, may cause increased runoff, erosion, and slope instability as consequence of intense rainfall. The post-fire response of slopes is highly site-specific. Therefore, in situ surveys and laboratory tests are needed to quantify changes in key soil parameters. The present study documents the post-fire physical and hydromechanical properties of pyroclastic topsoil collected from three test sites that suffered wildfires and rainfall-induced post-fire events in 2019 and 2020 in the Sarno Mountains (Campania Region, southern Italy). The tested pyroclastic soils in burned conditions show (i) no significant changes in grain size distribution, soil organic matter, and specific gravity; (ii) a deterioration in shear strength in terms of decreased soil cohesion caused by the fire-induced weakening of root systems; and (iii) a decrease in hydraulic conductivity. Accordingly, it can be argued that the documented post-fire erosion responses were mainly caused by the reduced cohesion and hydraulic conductivity of the burned topsoil layer, as well as by the loss of vegetation cover and the deposition of fire residues. Although deserving further deepening, this study can represent the necessary background for understanding the initiation mechanism of post-fire erosion processes in the analyzed area and on several natural slopes under similar conditions.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11386/4809052
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