Minu Treesa Abraham

Tell us about yourself:

I am Minu Treesa Abraham, a doctoral researcher at the Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Indore, India. I was born and raised in the state of Kerala, India. I have completed B. Tech in Civil Engineering from College of Engineering Trivandrum and M. Tech in Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering from Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology Surat.


What is your research about?

Currently, I work on different aspects of landslide forecasting and improving the performance of existing forecasting tools. I have worked on both local and regional scale landslide forecasting models, considering both temporal and spatial aspects. My study areas are Kalimpong, in Darjeeling Himalayas, and Idukki and Wayanad districts in the Western Ghats. For Kalimpong, we have integrated the local scale rainfall thresholds with real time field based geotechnical monitoring data, to predict the occurrence of landslides. For Idukki and Wayanad, we have integrated the landslide susceptibility maps along with rainfall thresholds on a regional scale, to develop a spatio-temporal forecasting model. Along with the failure forecasts, I am working on the post failure movement of debris flows as well, and have developed a tool for debris flow simulation. Research is going on in understanding the significance of different parametric inputs and exploring the possibilities of effective use of simulation tools for predicting the impact of future debris flow events.


What excites you about your research?

I strongly believe that my research is very well connected to the society and the findings should be useful from a disaster management perspective. Understanding the historical relationship between landslides with their conditioning and triggering factors is always exciting. I found it very interesting to explore the role of landslides in the evolution of landscapes and drainage paths. There is much more to explore on the physical processes involved in the triggering and runout processes of landslides and I am eagerly looking forward to learning more.


What broader importance does your research have for society?

Landslides are morphological processes that shape the landscape, but when they interact with human environment, they turn out to be disasters. My research aims at reducing the impact of landslides, by providing early warning. The findings can aid in planning the future developmental activities considering the landslide susceptibility, and to frame policies on disaster risk reduction.


What inspired you to pursue a career in Earth Science?

I belong to the state of Kerala, India, where landslides and debris flows are claiming lives every monsoon. The hilly regions, which are tourist destinations, are affected by landslides, setting severe socio-economic setbacks. I grew up listening to the news of catastrophic debris flows every year. Debris flows and their cascading effects have severe impacts on lives and infrastructure. Being a Civil Engineer, the interaction of landslides with the built environment and the methods for reducing their impacts were my first concern. Later, I realized that providing early warning is the most effective way of risk reduction and spatio-temporal forecasting of landslides is the first step towards this.


What are you looking to do after you complete your PhD or postdoc?

Teaching is always my passion. I plan to pursue a career in academics where I can do both teaching and research. The initial objectives of my research are achieved as a part of my PhD, and I have a long term plan of extending my work towards physical modeling and landslide mitigation works.


Given unlimited funding and access to resources, what is your dream project that you would pursue?

I would like to develop a close network of low-cost sensors for my study areas in Idukki and Wayanad, where we can monitor the slopes in real-time. I would like to collect the tilt angles, along with matric suction, moisture content, and vibrations, in order to understand the impact of different anthropogenic activities and rainfall on the stability of slopes. A strong network of Automatic Weather Stations is required in both these areas. I would also like to develop a strong workforce who can do field visits and conduct aerial surveys after every monsoon, to understand the morphological changes.


What else do you do? Any hobbies or interests outside of work?

Besides my work, I enjoy reading, doodling and listening to songs.

If you would like, please provide a link to your personal website.

Homepage: https://sites.google.com/view/minutreesaabraham/

Google scholar: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=1WOq4UIAAAAJ&hl=en


Minu on her visit to landslide sites in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India, during the LARAM Course, 2020.