Articles | Volume 16, issue 12
Research article
12 Dec 2016
Research article |  | 12 Dec 2016

Analysing post-earthquake landslide activity using multi-temporal landslide inventories near the epicentral area of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake

Chenxiao Tang, Cees J. Van Westen, Hakan Tanyas, and Victor G. Jetten

Abstract. Large earthquakes in mountainous regions may trigger thousands of landslides, some active for years. We analysed the changes in landslide activity near the epicentre of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake by generating five landslide inventories for different years through stereoscopic digital visual image interpretation. From May 2008 to April 2015, 660 new landslides occurred outside the co-seismic landslide areas. In April 2015, the number of active landslides had gone down to 66, less than 1 % of the co-seismic landslides, but still much higher than the pre-earthquake levels. We expect that the landslide activity will continue to decay, but may be halted if extreme rainfall events occur.

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Short summary
Post-seismic landslides highlighted the need for more research to provide critical information for reconstruction. By mapping detailed landslide inventories, our work shows that most of the landslide activities were concentrated within the first 3 years after the earthquake, and they are majorly determined by vegetation regrowth, available volumes of loose materials, and extreme rainfall events. The landslide activity will continue to decay, but it may be halted if extreme rainfall occurs.
Final-revised paper