Co-seismic landslide topographic analysis based on multi-temporal DEM—A case study of the Wenchuan earthquake
© Ren et al.; licensee Springer. 2013
Received: 14 August 2013
Accepted: 14 October 2013
Published: 17 October 2013
Hillslope instability has been thought to be one of the most important factors for landslide susceptibility. In this study, we apply geomorphic analysis using multi-temporal DEM data and shake intensity analysis to evaluate the topographic characteristics of the landslide areas. There are many geomorphologic analysis methods such as roughness, slope aspect, which are also as useful as slope analysis. The analyses indicate that most of the co-seismic landslides occurred in regions with roughness, hillslope and slope aspect of >1.2, >30, and between 90 and 270, respectively. However, the intersection regions from the above three methods are more accurate than that derived by applying single topographic analysis method. The ground motion data indicates that the co-seismic landslides mainly occurred on the hanging wall side of Longmen Shan Thrust Belt within the up-down and horizontal peak ground acceleration (PGA) contour of 150 PGA and 200 gal, respectively. The comparisons of pre- and post-earthquake DEM data indicate that the medium roughness and slope increased, the roughest and steepest regions decreased after the Wenchuan earthquake. However, slope aspects did not even change. Our results indicate that co-seismic landslides mainly occurred at specific regions of high roughness, southward and steep sloping areas under strong ground motion. Co-seismic landslides significantly modified the local topography, especially the hillslope and roughness. The roughest relief and steepest slope are significantly smoothed; however, the medium relief and slope become rougher and steeper, respectively.
It has been commonly accepted that steep topography are of high landslide frequency in active orogenic region. The co-seismic landslides usually occurred in active orogenic regions, which are one of the major secondary nature hazards related to strong earthquakes (Harp and Jibson 1996; Gallousi and Koukouvelas 2007; Owen et al. 2008; Ren and Lin 2010; Dai et al. 2011a). In some cases, co-seismic landslides even produce more serious human loss and damages than the earthquake itself. Thus, the co-seismic landslides have fundamental influence on human life and seismic design of buildings etc. It has been noticed that transportation and deposition of the landslide materials will also have fundamental impact on the topographic evolution (Meng et al. 2006; Godard et al. 2010; Ouimet, 2010; Hovius et al. 2011; Parker et al. 2011). Contemporary, the topographic conditions will also affect the susceptibility of landslides (Jibson et al. 2000; Dai and Lee 2002; Korup et al. 2007). A variety of approaches have been used in slope instability analysis, which has been one of the most important topographic features in detecting susceptible landslide areas (Dai and Lee 2002; Korup et al. 2007; Ren and Lin 2010; Chuang and Fabbri 2008). With the development of Geographical Information Systems (GIS), numerous quantitative topographic analysis approaches have developed in recent years. Topographic roughness, slope aspect and hillslope are the most commonly used features in tectonic geomorphologic and landslide-related studies (e.g., Dai and Lee 2002; Casson et al. 2005; Zhang et al. 2011; Ren and Lin 2010). The lithologic units and concentrations of the co-seismic landslides induced by Wenchuan earthquake have been analyzed in detail (Dai et al. 2011a). In this paper, we will mainly focus on the topographic characteristics of the co-seismic landslides. The shaking intensity is another important parameter that has been thought to be related to co-seismic landslides as well as sand liquefactions (Harp and Wilson 1995; Murphy et al. 2002; Meunier et al. 2007; Wang et al. 2011). In this study, we also use the open accessed strong motion records to analyze the relationship between Wenchuan earthquake triggered co-seismic landslides and the peak ground acceleration (PGA) distribution, which is distributed by CSMNC (China Strong Motion Networks Center), IEMCEA (Institute of Engineering Mechanics, China Earthquake Administration).
The occurrence of 2008 Mw 7.9 Wenchuan earthquake provides a valuable opportunity to verify the accuracy of multiple approach analyses involving variable topographic analyses and shaking intensity. The landslide areas are validated using the pre-earthquake high-resolution digital elevation model (DEM) data derived from 1:50,000 topographic maps. The analyses indicate that the co-seismic landslides are closely correlated to the topographic conditions as well as the shaking intensity. The topographic effects of the Wenchuan earthquake are also analyzed based on post-earthquake DEM data derived from stereo pair of IRS-P5 (Indian Remote Sensing Satellite) remote sensing images by comparing with pre-earthquake DEM.
Data and methods
Stereo pairs IRS-P5 Imagery used in post-earthquake DEM derivation
Elevation precision of topographic map derived pre-earthquake DEM
Elevation precision of imagery derived post-earthquake DEM
Topographic analysis of the co-seismic landslides produced by the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake
The slope aspect is the expression of horizontal direction that a mountain slope faces. Due to the exposure to sunrays, the slope aspect has fundamental influence on the landslide possibility due to the differences of temperature, sediment condition, vegetation etc. (e.g. Rech et al. 2001; Fekedulegn et al. 2003). Mechanical, chemical and biological weathering are much stronger on the southward facing slopes than that on the northward facing slopes, where are more open to the sunlight and warm wind. The slope aspect analysis on post-earthquake DEM also shows high landslide density on the southward facing slopes (Figures 2, 3 and 4). The southward slope aspect is generally between 90 and 270 degree. Therefore, applying threshold value of 90—270, we can derive the landslide potential area on the basis of the slope aspect analysis. According to the slope aspect, post-earthquake slope aspect did not change much, comparing with pre-earthquake data within the landslide area. It indicates that the co-seismic landslides did not affect the slope aspect, i.e., it is not controlled by such tectonic events.
According to the co-seismic landslides, seismic information such as ground motion is one of the main trigger mechanisms. We consequently analyzed the characteristics of landslide areas based on multiple approaches including ground motion information.
Co-seismic landslide is a kind of special landslide directly triggered by strong earthquake (Harp and Jibson 1996; Gallousi and Koukouvelas 2007; Owen et al. 2008; Ren and Lin 2010; Dai et al. 2011a). Therefore, the co-seismic landslides are related to the topographic situation and seismic shaking. In landslide-related studies, roughness, hillslope and slope aspect analyses are the most widely used methods in geomorphologic studies (Dai and Lee 2002; Casson et al. 2005; Ren and Lin 2010; Korup et al. 2007; Chuang and Fabbri 2008). After the 2008 Mw 7.9 Wenchuan earthquake, there are numerous co-seismic landslides were triggered (Ren and Lin 2010; Yin et al. 2010 Godard et al. 2010; Ouimet 2010; Dai et al. 2011a, 2011b), which provide an ideal opportunity to check the co-seismic landslides characters. Based on the pre-earthquake DEM data, we can analysis the topographic character of the landslided area. Comparing pre-earthquake and post-earthquake DEM data, we can consequently analysis the topographic effects of the Wenchuan earthquake. In order to derive the high landslide density region, the threshold values of roughness, hillslope and slope aspect are set to be >1.2, >30, and between 90 and 270, respectively.
Landslide occurrence shows clearly correlation with the topographic conditions. At all the three sites, over 50% landslides occurred in the derived roughness, aspect and hillslope areas over the threshold values, respectively (Table 4). In order to evaluate the actual correlation between the above topographic parameters and landslide occurrence, we apply equal landslide density as the main factor. Equal landslide density is the ratio between the landslide areas and the corresponding areas derived by applying the roughness, hillslope and slope aspect thresholds. Among the three parameters, roughness is closely correlated to landslide rather than hillslope, i.e., the highest equal area landslide density. The intersection regions are derived from the intersection regions of the roughness, hillslope and slope aspect areas by applying the above thresholds. Therefore, the areas decreased significantly and the landslides occurred in the intersection region is lower than 40%. However, the intersection region is only 20–69% of the areas derived from roughness, hillslope, and slope aspect map. Consequently, the equal area density of the co-seismic landslide is still the highest. The geological structure of Longmen Shan Thrust Belt and seismic shake information of PGA data both suggest that the co-seismic landslides mainly occurred in regions within the up-down and horizontal PGA contour of 150 and 200 gal on the hanging wall side (Figure 6).
Post-earthquake DEM analysis indicates the medium roughness and hillslope regions are becoming rougher and steeper after the Wenchuan earthquake. The roughest relief and steepest slopes are smoothed by the Wenchuan earthquake (Figure 5). This indicates that the medium topographic roughness and hillslope are modified by the Wenchuan-like strong earthquakes or landslides. However, slope aspect did not change much, which indicates the formation and modification of slope aspect is not directly related to single tectonic events such as strong earthquake or landslide. The roughest and steepest regions are co-seismically smoothed by the Wenchuan earthquake. Thus, rough and steep regions are difficult to stand for a long geological epoch with repeated strong earthquakes. Previous studies have demonstrated that landslides have played an important role in the surface processes in Longmen Shan region (Meng et al. 2006). Consequently, our results indicate that the co-seismic landslides are controlled both by topographic conditions and ground motion. The strong earthquakes play an important role in local topographic formation and modification by triggering co-seismic landslides.
Collaborative topographic analyses are efficient in landslide susceptibility evaluation. The co-seismic landslides are related to the topographic roughness, hillslope and slope aspect. The topographic thresholds are >1.2, between 90 and 270, and 30, respectively. The co-seismic landslides are also directly related to PGA values, which is usually occurred on hanging wall within the up-down and horizontal PGA contour of 150 and 200 gal, respectively.
Topographic conditions such as roughness and hillslope are controlled by tectonic event like the Wenchuan earthquake, however, slope aspect is not modified by such event.
The roughest relief and steepest slope regions were smoothed after the Wenchuan earthquake, however the medium roughness and slope regions became rougher and steeper, respectively.
We thank Qiang Xu, Weili Li and Tao Chen for helpful comments and discussion. This work was funded by the National Nonprofit Fundamental Research Grant of China (IGCEA1119), Foundation of Returned Overseas Scholars of China and National Natural Science Foundation of China (41102136).
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