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Spatio-temporal evolution of mass wasting after the 2008 Mw 7.9 Wenchuan earthquake revealed by a detailed multi-temporal inventory

Fan, Xuanmei, Domènech, Guillem, Scaringi, Gianvito, Huang, Runqiu, Xu, Qiang, Hales, Tristram C. ORCID:, Dai, Lanxin, Yang, Qin and Francis, Oliver 2018. Spatio-temporal evolution of mass wasting after the 2008 Mw 7.9 Wenchuan earthquake revealed by a detailed multi-temporal inventory. Landslides 15 (12) , pp. 2325-2341. 10.1007/s10346-018-1054-5

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Strong earthquakes in mountainous areas can trigger a large number of landslides that generate deposits of loose and unconsolidated debris across the landscape. These deposits can be easily remobilised by rainfalls, with their movement frequently evolving into catastrophic debris flows and avalanches. This has been the fate of many of the 200,000 co-seismic deposits generated by the 2008 Mw 7.9 Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan, China. Here we present one of the first studies on the post-seismic patterns of landsliding through a detailed multi-temporal inventory that covers a large portion of the epicentral area (462.5 km2). We quantify changes of size-frequency distribution, active volumes and type of movement. We analyse the possible factors controlling landslide activity and we discuss the significance of mapping uncertainties. We observe that the total number of active landslides decreased with time significantly (from 9189 in 2008 to 221 in 2015), and that post-seismic remobilisations soon after the earthquake (2008–2011) occurred stochastically with respect to the size of the co-seismic deposits. Subsequently (2013–2015), landslide rates remained higher in larger deposits than in smaller ones, particularly in proximity to the drainage network, with channelised flows becoming comparatively more frequent than hillslope slides. However, most of the co-seismic debris remained along the hillslopes and are largely stabilised, urging to rethink the way we believe that seismic activity affects the erosion patterns in mountain ranges.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: Springer Verlag (Germany)
ISSN: 1612-510X
Date of Acceptance: 23 August 2018
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2022 07:21

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