, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 13–31 | Cite as

Breaching parameters of landslide dams

  • M. Peng
  • L. M. ZhangEmail author
Original Paper


Landslide dams pose enormous risks to the public because of the potentially catastrophic floods generated by breaching of such dams. The need to better understand the threats of landslide dams raises questions about the proper estimation of breaching parameters (breach size, breaching duration, and peak outflow rate) of landslide dams and the feasibility of applying models for estimating the breaching parameters of man-made earthen dams to landslide dams. This paper aims to answer these two questions. In this study, a database of 1,239 landslide dams, including 257 cases formed during the 12 May 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, has been compiled. Based on records of 52 landslide dam cases with breaching information in the database, empirical models for estimating the breaching parameters of landslide dams are developed. A comparison study between landslide dams and man-made earth and rockfill dams is conducted, which shows that the models for man-made earth and rockfill dams are not suitable for estimating the breaching parameters of landslide dams. Two case studies are presented to show the application of the set of empirical models developed in this paper.


Landslide Dams Dam breach Erosion Overtopping Earthquake 



The authors acknowledge the support from the Ministry of Science and Technology (2009BAK56B05), the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong SAR (no. 622207), the State Key Laboratory of Geohazard Prevention and Geoenvironment Protection (2008CB425801), and the National Science Foundation of China (grant no. 50828901). Dr. Yao Xu provided constructive comments on the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringThe Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, HKSARHong KongChina
  2. 2.Affiliated Researcher, State Key Laboratory of Geohazards and EnvironmentChengdu University of TechnologyChengduChina

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