Landslide research in China

Chen, Zuyu; Meng, Xingmin; Yin, Yueping; Dijkstra, Tom; Winter, Mike; Wasowski, Janusz. 2016 Landslide research in China. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, 49 (4). 279-285.

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On 9 April 2000, a 91 Mm3 rock avalanche occurred in Linzhi Prefecture, Tibet. The event was accompanied by a deafening noise, with the rock mass travelling from a maximum elevation of 5132 m and coming to a rest at an elevation of 2163 m. It formed a landslide dam in the Yigong Zangbo River of some 55 m height, impounding a reservoir of some 2 Gm3 for a period of 62 days after which it emptied in less than 12 h. This event was a forewarning of a period of frequent geological disasters in China during the start of the 21st century. The ensuing Wenchuan earthquake (surface-wave magnitude Ms 8.0; May 2008), Zhouqu debris flow (August 2010) and Ludian earthquake (Ms 6.7; August 2014) led to the Chinese Government renewing its campaign against geological disasters and it has since invested heavily in scientific research to guide efforts to mitigate the impact of such natural disasters. This thematic set on Landslide Research in China was initiated to highlight this research. This paper provides a brief review of three of the featured subjects and accompanies the five papers published in the thematic set. Large earthquakes severely affect the geological environment and also result in the potential for secondary disasters in the days, months and years that follow. There is continued debate on how quickly landscapes recover following a high-magnitude disturbance. Lin et al. (2006, 2009) studied the ChiChi earthquake of 1999 and found that 5 years after the earthquake the area experienced a relatively high number of landslides (including debris flows) followed by a trend of gradual decline. Hovius et al. (2011) concluded that it took c. 6 years for the landslide signal to return to pre-1999 levels. Other examples of long-term landscape recovery have been discussed by, for example, Nakamura et al. (2000) for the 1923 Ms 7.9 Kanto earthquake in Japan, and by Huang (2011) for the 2008 Ms 8.0 Wenchuan earthquake, China. The Wenchuan earthquake took place on 12 May 2008 in Sichuan Province, resulting in some 200 000 landslide events (Xu et al. 2013), and in the following years the province frequently experienced further landslide activity. According to the first author's statistics, the province experienced 668, 934, 2161, 1997 and 3147 geohazard events between 2008 and 2012. The enhanced landslide and debris-flow activity after the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake was highlighted in the Special Issue of Engineering Geology ‘The long-term geologic hazards in areas struck by large-magnitude earthquakes’ (2014, Volume 182, Part B).

Item Type: Publication - Article
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ISSN: 1470-9236
Date made live: 07 Feb 2017 14:57 +0 (UTC)

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