Numerical modeling of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake-triggered Niumiangou landslide considering effects of pore-water pressure

  • Da Huang
  • Yi Xiang SongEmail author
  • Guo Wei Ma
  • Xiang Jun Pei
  • Run Qiu Huang
Original Paper


Ring-shear experiments are commonly conducted to analyze the kinematic mechanisms of landslides triggered by earthquakes, particularly for landslides impacted by pore-water pressure near the grain-crushing sliding surface. However, pore-water pressure is rarely considered in numerical simulation of the post-failure behavior of earthquake-induced landslides. In this paper, a pore-water pressure model based on the results of ring-shear tests (Cui et al. Landslides 14(3):1–15, 2016) is incorporated into the discontinuous deformation analysis (DDA) for modeling and further understanding the initiation and motion behaviors of the Niumiangou landslide triggered by the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. The pore-water pressure can be recalculated in each time step before the sliding block is detached from the base in the source area, and the friction coefficient of the sliding surface is simultaneously updated according to the pore-water pressure ratio in the modified DDA. The modified pore-water pressure DDA (PWP-DDA) is validated by means of comparison with the analytical results of the dynamic behaviors of a sliding block on an inclined plane under dynamic acceleration. The simulation results indicate that the pore-water pressure on the sliding surface of the Niumiangou landslide sharply increases within a short period, with small relative displacement of the landslide. Relative to the simulated results from the unmodified DDA, the pore-water pressure calculated by the PWP-DDA promotes higher velocity and longer run-out of the sliding mass. Moreover, the modeling run-out and deposit pattern from the PWP-DDA are in basic agreement with the topography of an actual survey.


Earthquake-induced landslide Pore-water pressure Ring-shear experiment Discontinuous deformation analysis Niumiangou landslide 



Absolute acceleration of sliding block


Downward critical acceleration

aE −  W

Seismic acceleration record in E-W direction


Horizontal dynamic acceleration

aN −  S

Seismic acceleration record in N-S direction


Upward critical acceleration


Vertical dynamic acceleration


Parameter that governs the stress–displacement behavior of unloading–reloading


Breakage potential at current time


Intial loading breakage potential


After loading breakage potential


Cohesive strength


A factor which depends on the degree of disturbance to which the rock mass has been subjected by blast damage and stress relaxation


Initial void ratio


Friction force


Gravitional acceleration


Abbreviation of “Geological Strength Index”


Crushing hardness


Mass of the sliding block


Material constant


Parameter that governs the sharpness of the transformation from the linear to the nonlinear stress–displacement scope


Breakage number


Shape number


Normal support force


Pore-water pressure


Atmospheric pressure


Parameter defined in Eq. (14)


Parameter defined in Eq. (2)





\( \dot{u} \)



Parameter governing the elasto-plastic displacement tolerance


Velocity of base block


Velocity of sliding block


Inclination angle


Unit weight of rock mass.


Pore-water pressure ratio


Parameter defined in Eq. (5)


Pore-pressure–breakage coefficient


Coulomb friction coefficient


Breakage coefficient


Uniaxial compressive strength of the intact rock pieces

\( {\sigma}_n^{,} \)

Effective normal stress

\( {\sigma}_{n0}^{,} \)

Initial effective normal stress


Shear stress


Ultimate shear strength


Friction angle



This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 41472245; 41672300) and the Opening Fund of State Key Laboratory of Geohazard Prevention and Geoenvironment Protection (Chengdu University of Technology) (SKLGP2017K015).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Civil and Transportation EngineeringHebei University of TechnologyTianjinChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Geohazard Prevention and Geoenvironment ProtectionChengdu University of TechnologyChengduChina

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