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Catastrophic Mass-Movements in Mountainous Areas


Modelling and Prediction of Catastrophic Mass-Movements in Mountainous Areas (Caucasus)

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-MRA/Modelling and Risk Assessment/Environment
  • ENV-EHS/Environmental Health and Safety/Environment
  • ENV-MIN/Monitoring and Instrumentation/Environment

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
National Center of Seismic-Hydro-Geodynamic Research, Georgia, Tbilisi

Supporting institutes

  • Georgian Geophysical Society, Georgia, Tbilisi


  • Mitsui Mineral Development Engineering Co., Ltd., Japan, Tokyo

Project summary

Each year debris-flows (mud-torrents, torrential lava) cause a lot of disasters in mountainous areas all over the world (see special issue of Journal of Physics and Chemistry of Earth, vol.25, No.9, pp. 705-797, 2000). Periodically thousands of populated areas, roads, oil and natural gas pipeline routes, high voltage electric lines and agricultural lands are under the heavy influence, sometimes with catastrophic impact of hazardous geological processes. The territory of Caucasus due to the development of large-scale hazardous geological processes, their frequent reoccurrence, the growth of population, land use and economic concern belongs to the hardest hit mountainous regions in the world. The annual economical losses due to geomorphological hazards in Georgia are of order of 100 mln USD.

Measurements of debris flow characteristics and field observations are of the great importance both for theoretical and practical purposes. Field measurements of debris flows are needed to define their rheologic behaviour, to calibrate mathematical models, as well as to plan countermeasures and develop warning systems.

Basin of r. Duruji (Eastern Georgia) is the classical example, illustrating the intensity and power of debris flows and their catastrophic consequences, directly threatening the town of Kvareli located on the eastern part of the accumulation zone of the torrent as well as the objects of agricultural designation. Mud-torrents not only periodically strongly damage the environment but they also are followed by human losses.

Within the framework of the project there will be accomplished the scope of investigation, focused on geophysical prospecting of source area for compilation of GIS-model, including all above data and creation of statistical model of correlation between catastrophic mass-movements and acting factors. Organization of monitoring system for identification of the hydrologic conditions that lead to debris flows and investigation of the triggering mechanism, dynamic properties and deposition processes of the debris flows. Creation of scenario of catastrophic event, assessment of economical risk and elaboration of mitigation measures.

We can conclude that the creation of monitoring system and modelling of catastrophic mass movements in mountainous areas for predicting catastrophic events is a very serious environmental problem. Its solution will be a pre-condition of sustainable development of catastrophe-prone areas.

There are number of factors that will promote the successful realization of the project:

- The positive results of investigations with the aid of complex measurements and their high accuracy in fixation of surface movements;
- Highly qualified and experienced scientists in abovementioned fields from the following institutions:

1. National Center of Seismic-hydro-Geodynamic Research of Georgian Geological State Department;
2. Georgian Geophysical Society.

The main participants of the project who were previously interested in (connected to) subjects concerning armaments, will be capable to use their knowledge and (abilities) ideas for solving peaceful tasks touching monitoring of strain movements.

The foreign specialists have been involved in the development of this project and they continue to actively cooperate with the project participants in the following fields:

i. participation in the technical consulting committees in each field of the project ensuring input and management of the project realization;
ii. participation in the regular meetings;
iii. exchange of data during the realization of project;
iv. ensuring the equal survey of the project results;
v. participation in the haft-year conferences concerning the project survey;
vi. ensuring commentaries in relation to technical reports presented to ISTC.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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