All posts by Ivanna Penna

3rd Slope Tectonics Conference

During the first fortnight of September, the 3rd Slope Tectonic Conference took place at the Norwegian Geological Survey (NGU). The conference, focused on the study of slope deformation processes and their controls, was attended by researchers from Argentina, Austria, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Germany, Island, Italy, Japan, Morocco, Norway, Poland, Russia, Scotland, Slovenia, Switzerland and United States. The organization and support was done by the NGU, the Group of Risk Analysis from the University of Lausanne, and Åknes/Tafjord Beredskap IKS. After the conference, an amazing three day excursion allowed attendants to visit and discuss some slope instability sites in Norway. Following the successful previous conferences which both resulted in special publications at the Geological Society of London and Tectonophysics, an especial publication is being prepared.

Panoramica grupo

Pictures taken By Thierry Oppikofer

Second field work in Bolivia – SNIS Project

In the context of our project SNIS named “Sustainable Land Management in Mountain Regions of Bolivia and Nepal in the Context of Outmigration, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction” (in collaboration with: Universität Bern, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation, Université de Neuchâtel, IUCN, RCO-NCCR, AGRUCO, Others). Prof. Jaboyedoff, Dr. Ivanna Penna and Mr. Jean-Marie Vuignier, conducted around two weeks of field work survey during July 2014 in the Jatún Mayu-Pankuruma watershed (Cochabamba, Bolivia). The research was conducted in collaboration with the researchers Angelica Machaca and Edgar Cuba from the AGRUCO-Agroecología Universidad de Cochabamba. Survey aimed to collect data on landscape and demographic dynamics, and included the interview with the Mayor of the Sipe-Sipe locality. In addition, during the second week of August 2014, a Science- Policy workshop was held in La Paz as part of our project. The workshop was organized by Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation, our second partner in the project. In this meeting counted with participants from ONG’s, government and universities who discussed about linkages between outmigration, land degradation and climate change adaptation in mountain regions of Bolivia.

Working group

Landslides and Floods Training – Les Diablerets

The field work training in Les Diablerets related to the Landslide and Flooding modules from the Specialisation certificate for the Assessment and Management of Geological and Climate Related Risk (CERG), have taken place between the 26-30 May 2014. This international training aims to increase the capacities of local scientists on disaster risk reduction related to natural hazards (

During the field work, the teaching team was composed by: Dr. Corine Frischknecht and Dr. Irene Manzella from the University of Geneva, Dr. Olivier Lateltin from SwissTopo and David Consuegra from HEIG-VD Yverdon Les Bains, and Prof. Michel Jaboyedoff and Dr. Ivanna Penna from our Group Risk (University of Lausanne).

The field work in Les Diablerets was attended by 19 students from Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America, who conducted a risk assessment considering the contribution of landslides and debris flows to flooding, and evaluated the vulnerability of the exposed values and infrastructure, with a final goal of a risk map construction.

Drone capture - CERG-C 2014 Group

Field work in the Andes and Pampeanas Range

Two members of our group (Dr. Ivanna Penna and Dr. Antonio Abellán) have recently conducted several weeks field work research in the Andes and Pampeanas range (Argentina), in collaboration with researchers from the Argentinean Geological Survey (SEGEMAR; Valerie Baumann, Analía Casa, Luis Fauqué, Mariale González and Mario Rosas). In the Mendoza valley, Valerie Baumann is carrying out a PhD study under the supervision of Prof. Constanza Bonadonna (UNIGE) and Prof. Michel Jaboyedoff (UNIL).

Counting with a terrestrial laser scanner, a drone and a Gigapan, the group have collected extensive information on large past slope failures, current slope instabilities, and deformation processes leading to failures…. More updates will come soon!

Survey on Potrero de Leyes rock avalanche. Pampeanas Range
Survey on Potrero de Leyes rock avalanche. Pampeanas Range
UNIL and SEGEMAR researchers working in the Mendoza valley. Central Andes
UNIL and SEGEMAR researchers working in the Mendoza valley. Central Andes
Survey on the Perito Moreno Glacier. Patagonian Andes
Survey on the Perito Moreno Glacier. Patagonian Andes

Nice – Field visit

An exceptional rainfall period affected the sourthern part of France during mid-January. Rainfall caused flooding but also triggered numerous landslides, most of them occurring on January 17th. Ivanna Penna and Jérémie Voumard visited the Var river valley and the Menton area three days after the events. With the aid of our drone, some inaccessible sites could be surveyed. A report with more information will be included soon in the Hazard News section.

Click to enlarge image

The after and before


CHANGES – Changing Hydro-meteorological Risks as Analyzed by a New Generation of European Scientists

The CHANGES network was a Marie Curie Initial Training Network funded by the European Community’s 7th Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013 under Grant Agreement No. 263953. The overall strategy of the network was to bring together a group of researchers with diverse backgrounds, and disciplines. The network included 11 partner institutions hosting one or more researchers and 6 associate partners that co-supervised research projects, offered internships and participated in CHANGES network events.

CHANGES intended to develop an advanced understanding of how global changes (environmental, climate change and socio-economical change) affect the temporal and spatial patterns of hydro-meteorological hazards and associated risks in Europe; how these changes can be assessed, modeled, and incorporated in sustainable risk management strategies, focusing on spatial planning, emergency preparedness and risk communication.

Risk Analysis group of UNIL was involved in WP-4 of the project and hosted two Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) related to the development of an integrated web-based Decision Support System of how to use available risk information in risk reduction. The developed platform was based on open source software and technologies, and the stakeholders can analyze different risk scenarios, evaluate possible risk reduction alternatives and make appropriate decisions using Multi-Criteria Decision Making approaches with the support of other modules and resources provided by the different components of the project.

For more detailed information, deliverables and publications, please refer to the CHANGES website.

Featured image: Super-Sauze, Barcelonnette (copyright CHANGES)

Ecosystems Protecting Infrastructure and Communities (EPIC): Nepal-Reducing risk from landslides and flash floods

Large and small hazard events are already the main cause of mortality – second only to epidemics – for mountain populations in Nepal and a major impediment to rural development. Due to the dispersed nature of mountain hazards, especially landslides and flash floods, little attention has been paid by NGOs or government agencies to reducing such risks. Also, in parallel with the decentralization of power and budgets, new road construction is booming, often being undertaken by communities themselves who lack any technical knowledge. Bio-engineering measures, which are cost-effective and easily adapted to the local context, could significantly reduce landslides along roads but are rarely incorporated in road construction in Nepal.

This initiative builds on an existing baseline of research and links with specific partners and communities. Support from EPIC will enable ecosystem-based approaches to become integrated within planning and decision-making services in Nepal, ultimately making a positive and lasting contribution towards community security and welfare.

The project was undertaken in the Panchase region of Western Nepal. Selected communities are from three districts: Kaski, Parbat and Syangja district.

For detailed information, please refer to EPIC’s website.

Characterizing and analyzing 3D temporal slope evolution

This was a project carried out at the Group Risk of the University of Lausanne, in close collaboration with experts from the University of Barcelona, the Geological Survey of Norway, the University of Alicante and the UPC. Please find below the summary of the project:

Although the use of new remote sensing techniques, either terrestrial, aerial or satellite-based, is shedding light into how landslides behave and evolve, still many questions need to be solved regarding the treatment of these datasets, more specifically LiDAR point clouds and its application to a better modelling and forecasting of landslides in 4D (X,Y,Z and Time).

Our research was focused on the development of new algorithms for the modeling and quantification of the geometrical variation of different failure mechanisms (e.g. toppling, falls, slides, etc) along time. The project was conceived through a threefold strategy: in a first step, we simulated mass movements at analog scale using a sandbox, in order to acquire high resolution 3D temporal data. Then, we exploited these datasets for the development of new algorithms aiming to better modelling and quantify the landslide geometrical variation along the different phases of the rupture. In the third and final step, we applied these algorithms to the study of more complex landslides in well instrumented pilot study areas, aiming to a better modelling and understanding of the 3D evolution suffered by complex mass movements during the pre-failure and failure stages.

This project was conceived as the logical continuation of the one year FNS project 138015 “Understanding landslide precursory deformation from superficial 3D data”. The outputs of the project will improve future implementation of 3D remote sensing techniques in early warning systems, a great challenge in current risk management strategies.

Funded by: Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).

More detailed information can be found at the project’s website.

International Workshop “Linking sustainable development, global migration, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction-Identifying emerging issues”

International Workshop – 02-04 December 2013

The goal of this workshop is to contribute to identify emerging issues and linkages between sustainable development, global migration, climate change and disaster risk reduction together with UNIL-FGSE academic staff members, students and alumni, as well as specialist from abroad.