Articles | Volume 12, issue 2
Research article
17 Feb 2012
Research article |  | 17 Feb 2012

Earthquake-triggered landslides in southwest China

X. L. Chen, Q. Zhou, H. Ran, and R. Dong

Abstract. Southwest China is located in the southeastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau and it is a region of high seismic activity. Historically, strong earthquakes that occurred here usually generated lots of landslides and brought destructive damages. This paper introduces several earthquake-triggered landslide events in this region and describes their characteristics. Also, the historical data of earthquakes with a magnitude of 7.0 or greater, having occurred in this region, is collected and the relationship between the affected area of landslides and earthquake magnitude is analysed. Based on the study, it can be concluded that strong earthquakes, steep topography as well as fragile geological environment, are the main reasons responsible for serious landslides in southwest China. At the same time, it is found that the relationship between the area affected by landslides and the earthquake magnitude in this region are consistent with what has been obtained worldwide. Moreover, in this paper, it is seen that the size of the areas affected by landslides change enormously even under the same earthquake magnitude in the study region. While at the same tectonic place or fault belt, areas affected by landslides presented similar outline and size. This means that local geological conditions and historical earthquake background have an important influence on landslides distribution, and they should be considered when assessing earthquake-triggered landslide hazards at Grade 1 according to ISSMGE.