Seismic-Induced Landslides: Lessons Learned from Recent Earthquakes in Spain

  • José DelgadoEmail author
  • Martín J. Rodríguez-Peces
  • Francisco J. García-Tortosa
  • Jesús Garrido
  • Iván Martín
  • Pedro Alfaro
Conference paper


On February 23, 2015, an earthquake of magnitude Mw 4.7 (Imax = V, scale EMS) struck the center of the Spain, triggering dozens of instabilities in taluses and natural slopes of an area characterized by low relief. These instabilities were characterized by: (1) very small size, most of them with volumes lower than 1 m3, and (2) to occur in rock masses affected by multiple discontinuities, which pre-defined blocks that fell down during the shaking. The inventory of instabilities of this earthquake has shown that most of the instabilities occurred on the slopes of the road network, although the larger instabilities were observed in natural slopes. The comparative analysis of this inventory with those made for other recent earthquakes occurred in the SE of Spain (1999, 2002, 2005 and 2011), all of them of similar magnitude Mw (between 4.7 and 5.1), allow to recognize that the vast majority of instabilities induced by these earthquakes were rock/soil falls, being other typologies of landslides very rare. In all cases, the size of instabilities triggered were small, usually with volumes of 1 m3 or less, reaching the larger volumes up to 500–1000 m3. Data available from these events point out that large landslides, as known in relation with historical earthquakes in Spain, cannot be induced by moderate to low magnitude earthquakes. Besides, slope morphology seems to control the location of induced instabilities. Thus, when the terrain is steep, as in the area affected by the earthquake in Lorca (2011, Mw 5.1), most of instabilities occur in natural slopes and affect the upper part of slopes. As the relief is less rugged, natural slopes instabilities are progressively less frequent until the extreme case of the 2015 event, when instabilities were located mostly on slopes of the road network.


Landslide Earthquake Moderate magnitude Falls Epicentral distance Relief characteristics 



This work has been founded by the EU (FEDER) and the Secretaría de Estado de Investigación, Desarrollo e Innovación of Spanish Government (project CGL2015-65602-R).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • José Delgado
    • 1
    Email author
  • Martín J. Rodríguez-Peces
    • 2
  • Francisco J. García-Tortosa
    • 3
  • Jesús Garrido
    • 4
  • Iván Martín
    • 1
  • Pedro Alfaro
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of AlicanteAlicanteSpain
  2. 2.Department of GeodynamicsUniversity Complutense of MadridMadridSpain
  3. 3.Department of GeologyUniversity of JaénJaénSpain
  4. 4.Department of Civil EngineeringUniversity of GranadaGranadaSpain

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