Current understanding of pipe-soil interaction during large ground movement events is insufficient due to their infrequency and the complexity of the infrastructure. Pipeline operators currently rely on a fully coupled continuum model of a landslide and pipeline interaction, or, more commonly, on a simplification of this interface using structural beam style soil-springs to transfer soil loads and displacements to the pipeline.
The basis for soil-springs are laboratory studies based largely on clean sand or pure clay, and flat ground. Owing to the use of manufactured soils and flat ground, the soil-pipe interface modelling may not be valid for landslides.
The loading of a pipeline in a landslide, and how the soil-spring factors should change with space and time are reviewed and may differ from commonly adopted guidelines. Physical modelling in research is emerging to study landslides and pipelines utilizing fully instrumented scale models. In the absence of fully instrumented field pipelines, physical modelling should be used to validate continuum models.