Holistic Geoethical Slopes’ Portfolio Risk Assessment in Geological Society

Holistic Geoethical Slopes’ Portfolio Risk Assessment in Geological Society

Dec 2nd, 2020

We are proud to publish Holistic Geoethical Slopes’ Portfolio Risk Assessment in Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 508.

We want to personally thank Giuseppe Di Capua of IAPG for inviting us.

Holistic Geoethical Slopes' Portfolio Risk Assessment in Geological Society, man-made slopes, hazards, risk assessments, geoethics,

Here is a summary of what we discuss in our paper

Landslides of natural and man-made slopes, including dykes and dams represent hazardous geomorphological processes that generate highly variable risks.

To optimize a slope mitigation approach, one has to combine the probability of failure and the cost of consequences which is by definition the risk that each slope generate.

Any efficient portfolio risk management effort of a slope should be an “Enterprise risk management” tactical and strategic plan, and not only a probability of failure reduction project. Indeed, risks generated by a slope portfolio should also match public acceptance criteria. As a result, risk mitigation from a single slope to portfolios of slopes, has to make sense from both the economic and safety point of view. Independent risk assessors will ensure a drastic reduction of conflict of interest.

Holistic Geoethical Slopes’ Portfolio Risk Assessment in Geological Society

The main question addressed in the paper is: what does rational risk management mean for a single slope or a portfolio of natural or man-made slopes? Furthermore, the paper aims to show how sensible and efficient portfolio risk management can be achieved through Holistic Geoethical approaches which evaluate quantitative risks.

A rational quantitative risk assessment effort should deliver a convergent, scalable, updatable and drillable risk register. The register should transparently include uncertainties while using a clearly defined risk-technical glossary.

The risk register of a rational risk assessment should allow:

  • bottom-up aggregation of risks
  • delivery of the risk information required for decision-making support and finally
  • insurance, risk transfer and other strategic and tactical planning.

The need to simultaneously suppress the silo culture and cognitive biases, within a sustainable Risk Management and ethical environment should be discussed. This becomes very important at regional or national scale, to avoid the usual “Discipline silo’s trap” leading to squandering of mitigative funds. Results coming from traditional data and modern data gathering techniques should be integrated to achieve a sustainable portfolio.

Our ability to live sustainably is linked to the capacity to evaluate voluntary and involuntary risks and establish reasonable tolerances to risk, thus prioritize them and their mitigations in the best possible manner.

Case study

We showcase the Cassas Landslide. The landslide is located in the NW Italian Alps. It impinges on a corridor encompassing main transportation lines, hydro-electrical facilities and a large village.

In order to ethically decrease the risks with limited resources in our context of climate change and large population and land-use changes, it is paramount to be able to compare, transparently and in a repeatable manner the risks generated by different landslides and mitigative alternatives.

As a result, several alternative stabilization techniques were studied, taking into account their:

  • life expectation,
  • maintenance criteria,
  • environmental impact, costs, and finally
  • residual risks.

The approach to deploy a slopes portfolio quantitative screening level risk assessment allows for enhanced and “early” decision making. That is to perform screening level prioritization of slopes and mitigations before engaging in more detailed analyses. Common practice risk matrix results are generally non discriminant and overwhelm management.

Based on the client’s tolerance threshold the analyst performs a ranking based on the intolerable part of risks, This highlights critical areas of the slopes and to guide recommendations on possible mitigations. The set of communication documents allowing to properly inform all the stakeholders on the outcome of the Risk Assessment is displayed as a dashboard.

Risk informed decision display of risks through the ORE dashboard allows to immediately understand the multidimensional effects of potential failure and their mitigation.


Understanding the intolerable risk of each slopes in a portfolio lead to the rational and unambiguous prioritization of mitigations.

Risk mitigation alone and incomplete risk assessments do not help evaluate or control man-made or natural hazards. Indeed, they do not help in managing complex single phenomena or portfolios of slopes.

The risk assessment and risk triaging allow to guide rational and sustainable emergency procedures, preparedness and evacuation plans.

Deploying a Holistic Geoethical Slopes’ Portfolio risk mitigation brings the following benefits:

  • Confidence,
  • clear decision-making and finally
  • powerful leadership.

Developing Holistic Geoethical Slopes’ Portfolio risk mitigation programs is possible. It is desirable and helps healthy debate of difficult public issues.

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Category: Hazard, Mitigations, Probabilities, Risk analysis, Risk management, Tolerance/Acceptability, Uncategorized

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