Using 2-D electrical resistivity imaging for joint geophysical and geotechnical characterization of shallow landslides

Matthew M. Crawford, L. Sebastian Bryson, Edward W. Woolery, Zhenming Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Electrical resistivity has become an increasingly popular technique for landslide investigations, providing insight into landslide type, location of the failure zone, differentiating soil and bedrock interfaces, and identifying areas of excess moisture. Using electrical resistivity as a tool to assess geotechnical properties of the landslide mass is often underutilized, however. Geophysical and geotechnical data sets for landslide investigations are commonly acquired independently in order to answer different questions. The non-unique solutions to electrical resistivity measurements are rarely correlated with geotechnical properties, such as water potential and shear strength. This study presents electrical resistivity data collected at two shallow colluvial landslides in Kentucky. A field-based framework was developed using modified soil-water characteristic curves and in-situ electrical conductivity measurements that allows 2-D electrical resistivity measurements to be a predictor of shear strength. The methodology incorporates in-situ field measurements of volumetric water content, water potential, and electrical conductivity within a framework to demonstrate that surface electrical resistivity can be used to highlight strength throughout the slope.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-46
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Geophysics
StatePublished - Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Francis Ashland of the U.S. Geological Survey Landslide Hazards Program for field assistance, instrumentation contribution, and technical advice. The University of Kentucky Earth and Environmental Sciences Department faculty, staff, and several graduate students who helped with field work and technical advice. Special thanks to the Environmental Sciences Department Ferm Fund for purchasing the time-lapse ER software module. We would like to thank Junfeng Zhu of the Kentucky Geological Survey for technical advice. The Kentucky Geological Survey provided additional financial support.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.


  • ERT
  • Electrical resistivity
  • Geophysics
  • Landslide
  • Shear strength
  • Soil mechanics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics


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