Magnitude-frequency characteristics and preparatory factors for spatial debris-slide distribution in the northern Faroe Islands

Mads-Peter Jakob Dahl, Niels H. Jensen, Anita Veihe, Lis Mortensen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


The Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic Ocean are highly susceptible to debris-avalanches and debris-flows originating from debris-slide activity in shallow colluvial soils. To provide data for hazard and risk assessment of debris-avalanches and debris-flows, this study aims at quantifying the magnitude and frequency of their debris-slide origins as well as identifying which preparatory factors are responsible for the spatial debris-slide distribution in the landscape. For that purpose a debris-slide inventory was generated from aerial photo interpretation (API), fieldwork and anecdotal sources, covering a 159 km(2) study area in the northern Faroe Islands. A magnitude-cumulative frequency (MCF) curve was derived to predict magnitude dependant debris-slide frequencies, while preparatory factors responsible for spatial debris-slide distribution were quantified through GIS-supported discriminant function analysis (DFA). Nine factors containing geological (lithology, dip), geomorphological (slope angle, altitude, aspect; plan and profile curvature) and land use (infield/outfield, sheep density) information were included in the multivariate analysis. Debris-slides larger than 100 m(2) with magnitude expressed as topographic scar area can be predicted from the power-law function: Y = 936.26X(-1277), r(2) = 0.98 while a physical explanation is preferred for the roll-over pattern of smaller slope failures. The DFA is able to correctly classify app. 70% of the modeled terrain units into their pre-determined stable/unstable groups. Preparatory factors responsible for the spatial debris-slide distribution are aspect, slope angle, sheep density, plan curvature and altitude, while influence of the remaining factors is negligible. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-11
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Debris-slides
  • Flow-type landslides
  • The Faroe Islands
  • Aerial photograph interpretation
  • Magnitude-frequency analysis
  • Discriminant function analysis

Cite this