Advertisement

Landslides

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 153–159 | Cite as

Interpretation of earthquake-induced landslides triggered by the 12 May 2008, M7.9 Wenchuan earthquake in the Beichuan area, Sichuan Province, China using satellite imagery and Google Earth

  • H. P. Sato
  • E. L. Harp
Recent Landslides

Abstract

The 12 May 2008 M7.9 Wenchuan earthquake in the People’s Republic of China represented a unique opportunity for the international community to use commonly available GIS (Geographic Information System) tools, like Google Earth (GE), to rapidly evaluate and assess landslide hazards triggered by the destructive earthquake and its aftershocks. In order to map earthquake-triggered landslides, we provide details on the applicability and limitations of publicly available 3-day-post- and pre-earthquake imagery provided by GE from the FORMOSAT-2 (formerly ROCSAT-2; Republic of China Satellite 2). We interpreted landslides on the 8-m-resolution FORMOSAT-2 image by GE; as a result, 257 large landslides were mapped with the highest concentration along the Beichuan fault. An estimated density of 0.3 landslides/km2 represents a minimum bound on density given the resolution of available imagery; higher resolution data would have identified more landslides. This is a preliminary study, and further study is needed to understand the landslide characteristics in detail. Although it is best to obtain landslide locations and measurements from satellite imagery having high resolution, it was found that GE is an effective and rapid reconnaissance tool.

Keywords

Landslides Sichuan Wenchuan Earthquake Google Earth FORMOSAT-2 SPOT5 Satellite 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Support for Hiroshi P. Sato’s research at the U.S. Geological Survey facilities in Golden, CO was provided by a grant from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan.

References

  1. Colesanti C, Wasowski J (2006) Investigating landslides with space-borne Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) interferometry. Eng Geol 88:173–199, doi: 10.1016/j.enggeo.2006.09.013 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Dai FC, Lee CF, Deng JH, Tham LG (2005) The 1786 earthquake-triggered landslide dam and subsequent dam-break flood on the Dadu River, southwestern China. Geomorphology 65:205–221, doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2004.08.011 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Densmore AL, Ellis MA, Li Y, Zhou R, Hancock GS, Richardson N (2007) Active tectonics of the Beichuan and Pengguan faults at the eastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau. Tectonics 26(4):1–17, doi: 10.1029/2006TC001987 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dong S, Zhang Y, Wu Z, Yang N, Ma Y, Shi W, Chen Z, Long C, An M (2008) Surface rupture and co-seismic displacement produced by the Ms8.0 Wenchuan earthquake of May 12th, 2008, Sichuan, China: eastwards growth of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Acta Geol Sin 82(5):938–948Google Scholar
  5. Geographical Survey Institute (2008) Crustal Deformation and Source Fault of the Sichuan (Wenchuan) Earthquake in 2008 (in Japanese). http://cais.gsi.go.jp/Research/topics/topic080604/index.html
  6. Parise M, Jibson RW (2000) A seismic landslide susceptibility rating of geologic units based on analysis of characteristics of landslides triggered by the 17 January, 1994 Northridge, California earthquake. Eng Geol 58:251–270, doi: 10.1016/S0013-7952(00)00038-7 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Sato HP, Hasegawa H, Fujiwara S, Tobita M, Koarai M, Une H, Iwahashi J (2007) Interpretation of landslide distribution triggered by the 2005 Northern Pakistan earthquake using SPOT 5 image. Landslides 4:113–122, doi: 10.1007/s10346-006-0069-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Science Museum of China (2008) Earthquake ruins in Diexi. http://www.kepu.net.cn/english/quake/ruins/rns16.html
  9. Taiwan National Space Organization (2008) FORMOSAT-2 features. http://www.nspo.org.tw/2005e/imagesell/SATproperty.htm
  10. Tang B, Liu S, Liu S (1994) Mountain disaster formation in northwest Sichuan. GeoJournal 34:41–46, doi: 10.1007/BF00813968 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Tobita M, Yarai H, Nishimura T, SAR team in GSI (2008) SAR-derived deformation fields and a fault model of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1335:48–49. http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2008/1335/of2008-1335.pdf Google Scholar
  12. Une H, Kumaki Y (2007) “Remotely sensed” surface fault rupture accompanied with the northern Pakistan earthquake. E-Journal Geo 2:86–94, http://www.soc.nii.ac.jp/ajg/ejgeo/228694une.pdf (in Japanese with English abstract)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. USGS (2008) Magnitude 7.9—EASTERN SICHUAN, CHINA. http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/eqinthenews/2008/us2008ryan/
  14. Xinhua (2008) At least 1,000 students buried in China county worst hit by quake. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-05/13/content_8157648.htm

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geography and Crustal Dynamics Research CenterGeographical Survey InstituteTsukubaJapan
  2. 2.United States Geological SurveyDenverUSA

Personalised recommendations