Investigation and numerical modeling of the overloading-induced catastrophic rockslide avalanche in Baige, Tibet, China

  • Wenpei Wang
  • Yueping YinEmail author
  • Sainan Zhu
  • Lichao Wang
  • Nan Zhang
  • Ruixin Zhao
Original Paper


After the first high-position landslide occurred in Baige Village, a second slide originated from the crown of the first landslide on November 3. The approximately 1.6 million m3 second slide moved rapidly and applied an impact load on the upper part of the residual mass of the first landslide, resulting in a 6.6 million m3 entrainment volume. The sliding mass rushed into the Jinsha River and blocked the channel again, causing catastrophic flooding which destroyed numerous roadbeds, bridges, and a large number of residential houses in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. Based on field investigations and simulation results by dynamic discrete element method (DEM), after the first landslide, the blocks formed by the trailing edge of the landslide became unstable and slid, continuously and dynamically loading and accumulating on the upper part of the first debris deposit, which rested in the grooved terrain of the slope, leading to the instability of the residual slope’s rock–soil mass and the initiation of a debris avalanche. With a peak velocity of 62 m/s, the debris avalanche slid rapidly to the location of the first slide deposit. Due to the topographic effect, it was transformed into a diffused debris avalanche, which scattered and accumulated, exhibiting the typical characteristics of a rapid long-runout landslide. Then, the calculated velocity value by DEM was also compared with those using other dynamic modeling approaches (e.g., sled model and rheological model). The DEM was proven producing a reasonable velocity variation pattern, and thus, it is suitable for the simulation of the entire movement process of high-position rockslides similar to the second Baige landslide.


Rockslide Overloading effect Dynamic erosion effect Discrete element method Unstable blocks 



We are grateful to Geological Engineering Investigation Institute, MeiShan for supplying some field survey data. We are also grateful to Engineer Yiqiu Deng and Engineer Ming Gong from Hi-key Technology for their help in EDEM software operation. In addition, we are also grateful to the Editor in Chief of Bulletin of Engineering Geology and the Environment, Louis N.Y. Wong, for reconsidering the revised manuscript. Finally, the authors would like to thank the reviewers of this manuscript for their good suggestions and useful comments.

Funding information

The study was financially supported by the National Key R&D Program of China (Grant No. 2018YFC1505404), National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41731287), and Geological Disaster Detailed Investigation Project of China Geological Survey (Grant No. DD20190637).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wenpei Wang
    • 1
  • Yueping Yin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sainan Zhu
    • 1
  • Lichao Wang
    • 1
  • Nan Zhang
    • 1
  • Ruixin Zhao
    • 2
  1. 1.China Institute of Geo-Environment MonitoringChina Geological SurveyBeijingChina
  2. 2.Chang’an UniversityXi’anChina

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