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Landslides problems in Armenia became the topic of the first round-table discussion organized by the Yerevan State University Sustainable Development Center

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On 9 July 2012 the Sustainable Development Center organized at the Yerevan State University (YSU), in the Palyans Hall, a round table discussion on the basic concepts of sustainable development (economic, social and environmental), focusing in particular on landslides problems in Armenia. The event was attended both by YSU representatives (faculty of Geography and Geology) and by representatives of a number of organizations, including non-governmental environmental organizations operating in the field (“Araza” NGO, “Ecological Public Alliance”, “National Water Partnership,” “Association for Sustainable Human development”, “Consumer support Center “and other NGOs, the Aarhus Centre in Yerevan, RA NAS Institute of Geology).

Several speakers were invited to present their reports and to take part in the discussions on the topic.

Mr. Ruben Movsesyan, Head of the Centre for Sustainable Development highlighted in his opening speech the importance of this first event and expressed his expectation that the reports produced based on the discussions would act as an important basis for further proposals. He then invited the participants to lucrative discussion.

The head of YSU International Cooperation Office, Mr. Alexander Markarov, stated that the opening of the Sustainable Development Center was a continuation of the successful mutually beneficial cooperation of the YSU and the OSCE Office in Yerevan that has developed in the last 7 years, and encouraged the Sustainable Development Center to continue its hard work in achieving its objectives. The Centre has been operating successfully since March of this year and despite the problems encountered so far, there is strong hope that all the challenges will be overcome in the nearest future. Mr. Markarov invited the participants to effective discussions and congratulated the representatives of the Centre for the organization of the round table discussion.

Several reports were presented during this event. Mr. Marat Grigoryan, Dean of the Faculty of Geography and Geology presented a report on “The Results and Current Situation of the Studies of Landslide Phenomena on the Territory of the RA”, which provided information about the dangerous processes of landslides, collapses, destructions, terrigenous sediments, heavy showers, etc. These activities have a high impact on the economy, the environment and the health of people, leading in worst case scenario to death of human beings. Mr. Grigoryan mentioned also that the report contains a number of recommendations to prevent such disasters. The author of the report informed that as a result of the joint researches conducted in 2005 by the Japanese “International Cooperation Organization” and by the Armenian “GEORISK” company, in the territory of the RA 2504 landslide areas have been identifies; these were marked out by decoding the results of satellite photos. As an outcome of the researches carried out in 2008-2009 by the “Jrhan” State Closed Joint Stock Company, and, as presented in the report “Monitorings of exogenous geological phenomena (landslides) at the RA territory” by Mr. Grigoryan, throughout the territory of Armenian settlements, 387 landslides were distinguished and drawn up the landslides cadastral data.

Presenting the social and economic damages that landslide phenomena cause throughout the territory of the RA, Mr. Grigoryan mentioned the following data

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The total surface of the landslide sites represents 122 thousand km²

- Landslides phenomena were registered in 233 communities

- 240 km of road have been damaged due to 280 landslides occurrences

- 5 km of railway have been damaged due to 10 landslides occurrences

- The landslides phenomena resulted into financial losses that, as according to the data obtained from the researches, amounted to USD 43 million (direct loss) / USD 54 million (potential loss).

Mr. Grigoryan also informed on the current situation of anti-landslide measures on the territory of the Republic and noted that no such measures are at the moment implemented. Furthermore, he underlined that the 2.5 km long drainage tunnel constructed in the landslide area near the town of Dilijan is not operated yet. It has also been noted, that problems associated with landslide phenomena are numerous. The primary problems are, as expected, the landslide movements; a package of anti landslides measures is highly needed, as it would provide some concrete solutions to these problems. By implementing these anti landslide measures, it is expected that the landslide ground will stabilize, including both the landslide body and the landslide slope.

Primary issues that need to be further investigated are the following:

a.Study of litiological structure of landslide slope geological cutoff up to radical/fundamental rocks

b.Assessment of setting form and depth of active slide and resolution of slide level homogeneousness

c.Assessment of ground water availability and the depth of their level

d.Assessment of ground water flow directions in the landslide body and out of its borders.

The problems identified are to be encountered mostly in the organization phase of an anti landslide measure plan, that can be used for providing solutions to other problems as well. During the record of activation and slowing down of landslide phenomena, the study of physic-mechanical properties of ground, the study of surface movements, study of dynamic coefficients of landslide ground flexibility are of extreme importance; these studies are crucial also for the evaluation of anti landslide measure effectiveness. Based on the above mentioned identified challenges and the necessity to find solutions to face the problems, it is suggested to implement the following research work in the landslide area:
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Map of installation form and depth of space, stable, unbroken and radical/fundamental rocksIn the result of research work must be presented the following items:Geotechnical engineering research work
Hydro geological research work
Geophysical research work
Geomorphologic research work
Drilling work
Resolution of movement directions and speed of landslide bodies by satellite positioning stations
Map of ground water installation depth, flow direction, depths of maximum penetration
Map of existing landslide level depth and installation form
Information about chemical composition of water
Information about physic-mechanical properties of ground
Map of flexibility coefficient (Ed) and slide module dynamic values (µd) of stable and slide rocks
Map of landslide body movement directions and speed.
The researched information will be observed permanently twice a year in different periods of time; this information will be processed and anti landslide measures will be operated. After the implementation of anti landslide measures permanent observation must be done (with the help of geophysical, water geological and satellite stations) which will give an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of anti landslide measures. The suggested complex research work and the data of expected results are applicable and acceptable for all landslide fields. In the case of implementation of draft-budget for any site, it will be necessary to do some changes and additions based on the work implementation in the given period.

Ms. Karine Danielyan, Professor at YSU Chair of Social-economic Geography, Chairman of the NGO Association for Sustainable Human Development, presented a report on “The Results of the UN Summit for Sustainable Development Rio +20”and on the measures undertaken by the RA representatives.

The presentations were followed by fruitful discussions. There were both questions and detailed proposals, which, will be later analyzed and discussed by the specialists of the Centre. In the end, final resulting specific proposals will be presented to the relevant structures of the Armenian government.