Natural Hazards

, Volume 86, Issue 3, pp 1393–1403 | Cite as

Landslides on the Loess Plateau of China: a latest statistics together with a close look

  • Xiang-Zhou Xu
  • Wen-Zhao Guo
  • Ya-Kun Liu
  • Jian-Zhong Ma
  • Wen-Long Wang
  • Hong-Wu Zhang
  • Hang Gao
Short Communication


Landslide plays an important role in landscape evolution, delivers huge amounts of sediment to rivers and seriously affects the structure and function of ecosystems and society. Here, a statistical analysis together with a field investigation was carried out on the Loess Plateau of China to address the challenges. The study tracks landslide-related deaths and collects knowledge about this natural hazard. Since the 1980s, 53 fatal landslides have occurred, causing 717 deaths. As the most important trigger, rainfall induced 40% of the catastrophic landslides, while other factors, i.e., human activities, freeze–thaw and earthquake, accounted for 36, 23 and 1%, respectively. Furthermore, landslide frequency and death toll related to human activities were increasing as time went on. Landslide also plays an important role in sediment delivery, especially in areas with steep terrain. Sediment discharge from landslides accounts for a considerable proportion of the total soil loss in the upper and middle reaches of the Yellow River. In some catchments of the Loess Plateau, landslides contributed over 50% of the total sediment discharge. The result shows that landslide is a widespread geologic hazard in the rural area of the Loess Plateau, China.


Geological hazards Landslides Soil yield Triggering mechanism 



This study is supported by the Program for Excellent Talents in the Universities of Liaoning Province (LR2015015), National Key R & D Project (2016YFC0402504), the Open Research Fund of the State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau (A314021402-1609) and the National Natural Science Foundations of China (51479022; 41571275).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiang-Zhou Xu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wen-Zhao Guo
    • 2
  • Ya-Kun Liu
    • 2
  • Jian-Zhong Ma
    • 1
  • Wen-Long Wang
    • 1
  • Hong-Wu Zhang
    • 3
  • Hang Gao
    • 2
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Northwest Agriculture and Forestry UniversityChinese Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Water ResourcesYanglingChina
  2. 2.School of Hydraulic EngineeringDalian University of TechnologyDalianChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Hydroscience and EngineeringTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina

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