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Supplements of Geografia Fisica e Dinamica Quaternaria
Volume II - 1989


Geomorphological Hazards


Landslide hazard induced by river undercutting along the Danube


Since the 1964 landslide of a loess bluff affecting the iron and steel plants of Dunaujvaros several papers have been written on the parameters to be considered for short-term bluff stability. The aim of the present investigation is to reveal the relationship between landslides, undercutting and other processes of bluff recession. Opinions agree that undercutting is due to the gradual westward shifting of the Danube from its Pleistocene alluvial fan on the Danube-Tisza Interfluve to its present valley. The approximately N to S course is not directly explained by a single, major fault-line. A local subsidence S of Budapest is probably responsible for an initial change of course and the undercutting of the margin of the Mezofold loess-mantled plain has been maintained subsequently by river mechanism and the weak Coriolis force. The most effective mechanisms of bluff retreat along undercut river bank sections are collapse of slabs detached, removal by runoff in the period of above-zero temperatures, frost shattering in winter and occasional landslides. Before flood control measures the Danube had been regularly removing part of the toes of previous landslides and thus generated renewed instability. Increased infiltration due to human settlement aggravated the landslide hazard. Archaeological evidence suggests that the previously proposed bluff retreat of 3-5 m per 100 years may be valid for periods of undercutting only, while human interference has reduced the recurrence interval of landslides and considerably accelerated recession along certain sections. By bank revetment the Danube is now prevented from undercutting the bluff and consequently groundwater conditions have become the primary control of the landslide hazard.

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