Classification and sudden departure mechanism of high-speed landslides caused by the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake

  • Xiaoyan Zhao
  • Kai Hu
  • Scott F. Burns
  • Houtian HuEmail author
Original Article


The sudden departure mechanism of high-speed landslides has always constituted a popular yet difficult research topic. Therefore, although a systematic classification of high-speed landslides is necessary, particularly since different types of landslides exhibit different mechanisms, an associated methodology has yet to be established. This paper investigates an easily overlooked phenomenon—landslide-quake, which is defined as a local ground vibration triggered by the sudden rupture of the locked segment of a high-speed landslide that occurs immediately prior to the departure of the landslide. This new concept is employed as a foundation for a new classification. The characteristics and formation conditions of landslide-quake are discussed, based upon which the high-speed landslides that occurred following the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake are classified into three different types. Subsequently, the sudden departure mechanism of each type of landslide is analyzed, thereby providing a new method for research on the sudden departure mechanism of high-speed landslides.


High-speed landslides Classification Sudden departure mechanism Landslide–earthquake 



This research was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant no. 41672295), the National Program on Key Basic Research Project of China (973 Program) (Grant no. 2013CB733201) and the Science and Technology Project of the Department of Transportation of Sichuan Province (Grant no. 2015B1-1).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaoyan Zhao
    • 1
  • Kai Hu
    • 1
  • Scott F. Burns
    • 2
  • Houtian Hu
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Faculty of Geosciences and Environmental EngineeringSouthwest Jiaotong UniversityChengduChina
  2. 2.Department of GeologyPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA

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