A NEW technique for predicting landslides that 'listens' to soil movement has been developed by Loughborough University.
The Acoustic Real-time Monitoring System uses a tube inserted into the slope, with a sensor on top to pick up the high frequency sounds that come from moving soil particles.
A sensor then sends information to a computer that gives a measure of the slope's stability.
Developers said they hoped the new system would be more sensitive to slope changes and more robust than traditional methods.
Neil Dixon, senior lecturer in geotechnical engineering at Loughborough University, said: 'Around the world, lots of people are killed every year in landslides. Slopes are not always monitored but, if there is an indication that a slope may fail, instruments like this may help to give early warning.
'Slope stability can reduce rapidly in a matter of hours or even minutes. A warning five or ten minutes earlier than is currently possible might be enough to evacuate a block of ats or clear a road - and save lives in the process.' The system is being tested using a trial embankment built by the University of Newcastle. Research, which will take three years to complete, is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.