, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 1031–1041 | Cite as

Analyzing rainfall-induced mass movements in Taiwan using the soil water index

  • Chi-Wen Chen
  • Hitoshi Saito
  • Takashi Oguchi
Original Paper


This study applied the soil water index (SWI), which can represent the conceptual soil water contents as influenced by present and antecedent rainfall, for analyzing rainfall-induced mass movements in Taiwan. The SWI has been used in Japan for nationwide mass movement warnings. This study examined whether the SWI can be also applied to Taiwan, which has a climatic condition and high-relief topography similar to Japan. We used data for mass movements for 2006–2012 (n = 263) for the main analyses and those for 2013 (n = 19) for verification. The SWI values before the rainfall events that triggered mass movements were used as the indicator of the antecedent rainfall condition. We found that when SWI values before rainfall events increased from <17.5 to >35, the upper threshold of rainfall conditions needed for triggering mass movements significantly decreased. The mass movements in 2013 support this finding. We classified rainfall conditions for triggering mass movements into two types, short duration–high intensity (SH) and long duration–low intensity (LL), based on a principal component analysis (PCA). The SH type is associated with a rapid increase in SWI, and the LL type is associated with a gradual rise and subsequent constancy of SWI except in some extremely long rainfall events. Based on this result, we modeled the general trend of the time series changes in SWI for the two types, which was verified using the mass movements in 2013.


Landslides Debris flows Short duration–high intensity (SH) Long duration–low intensity (LL) Warning system 



We would like to thank the Typhoon and Flood Research Institute (TTFRI) of Taiwan for providing rainfall data and the Soil and Water Conservation Bureau (SWCB) of Taiwan for providing information on mass movements. This work was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) KAKENHI Grant Number 15K12452.


  1. Aleotti P (2004) A warning system for rainfall-induced shallow failures. Eng Geol 73:247–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ayalew L, Yamagishi H (2005) The application of GIS-based logistic regression for landslide susceptibility mapping in the Kakuda–Yahiko Mountains, Central Japan. Geomorphology 65:15–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bishop AW (1955) The use of the slip circle in the stability analysis of slopes. Geotechnique 5:7–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bou Kheir R, Chorowicz J, Abdallah C, Dhont D (2008) Soil and bedrock distribution estimated from gully form and frequency: a GIS-based decision-tree model for Lebanon. Geomorphology 93:482–492CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brunetti MT, Peruccacci S, Rossi M, Luciani S, Valigi D, Guzzetti F (2010) Rainfall thresholds for the possible occurrence of landslides in Italy. Nat Hazard Earth Sys 10:447–458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bui DT, Tuan TA, Klempe H, Pradhan B, Revhaug I (2016) Spatial prediction models for shallow landslide hazards: a comparative assessment of the efficacy of support vector machines, artificial neural networks, kernel logistic regression, and logistic model tree. Landslides 13:361–378CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Caine N (1980) The rainfall intensity–duration control of shallow landslides and debris flows. Geogr Ann A 62:23–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Capparelli G, Tiranti D (2010) Application of the MoniFLaIR early warning system for rainfall-induced landslides in Piedmont region (Italy). Landslides 7:401–410CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chang TC, Chao RJ (2006) Application of back-propagation networks in debris flow prediction. Eng Geol 85:270–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chen CY (2016) Landslide and debris flow initiated characteristics after typhoon Morakot in Taiwan. Landslides 13:153–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chen H, Su DI (2001) Geological factors for hazardous debris flow in Hoser, Central Taiwan. Environ Geol 40:1114–1124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chen H, Chen RH, Lin ML (1999) Initiative anatomy of Tungmen debris flow, eastern Taiwan. Environ Eng Geosci 5:459–473CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chen CY, Lin LY, FC Y, Lee CS, Tseng CC, Wang AH, Cheung KW (2007) Improving debris flow monitoring in Taiwan by using high-resolution rainfall products from QPESUMS. Nat Hazards 40:447–461CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chen CW, Saito H, Oguchi T (2015) Rainfall intensity–duration conditions for mass movements in Taiwan. Progress Earth Planet Sci 2:1–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chen CW, Chen H, Oguchi T (2016) Distributions of landslides, vegetation, and related sediment yields during typhoon events in northwestern Taiwan. Geomorphology 273:1–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Chiang SH, Chang KT (2009) Application of radar data to modeling rainfall-induced landslides. Geomorphology 103:299–309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Chou HT, Lee CF, Lo CM (2016) The formation and evolution of a coastal alluvial fan in eastern Taiwan caused by rainfall-induced landslides. Landslides (Article in Press)Google Scholar
  18. Chuang SC, Chen H, Lin GW, Lin CW, Chang CP (2009) Increase in basin sediment yield from landslides in storms following major seismic disturbance. Eng Geol 103:59–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Crozier MJ (1999) Prediction of rainfall-triggered landslides: a test of the antecedent water status model. Earth Surf Proc Land 24:825–833CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dadson SJ, Hovius N, Chen H, Dade WB, Hsieh ML, Willett SD, JC H, Horng MJ, Chen MC, Stark CP, Lague D, Lin JC (2003) Links between erosion, runoff variability and seismicity in the Taiwan orogeny. Nature 426:648–651CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dahal R, Hasegawa S (2008) Representative rainfall thresholds for landslides in the Nepal Himalaya. Geomorphology 100:429–443CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dai FC, Lee CF (2002) Landslide characteristics and slope instability modeling using GIS, Lantau Island, Hong Kong. Geomorphology 42:213–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fujiwara O, Yanagida M, Shimizu N, Sanga T, Sasaki T (2004) Regional distribution of large landslide landforms in Japan—implication in geology and landform. Journal of the Japan Landslide Society 41:335–344 (in Japanese with English abstract)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Glade T, Crozier M, Smith P (2000) Applying probability determination to refine landslide-triggering rainfall thresholds using an empirical “antecedent daily rainfall model.”. Pure Appl Geophys 157:1059–1079CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gorsevski PV, Brown MK, Panter K, Onasch CM, Simic A, Snyder J (2016) Landslide detection and susceptibility mapping using LiDAR and an artificial neural network approach: a case study in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio. Landslides 13:467–484CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Guzzetti F, Carrara A, Cardinali M, Reichenbach P (1999) Landslide hazard evaluation: a review of current techniques and their application in a multi-scale study, central Italy. Geomorphology 31:181–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Guzzetti F, Malamud BD, Turcotte DL, Reichenbach P (2002) Power-law correlations of landslide areas in central Italy. Earth Planet Sc Lett 195:169–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Guzzetti F, Reichenbach P, Cardinali M, Galli M, Ardizzone F (2005) Probabilistic landslide hazard assessment at the basin scale. Geomorphology 72:272–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Guzzetti F, Reichenbach P, Ardizzone F, Cardinali M, Galli M (2006) Estimating the quality of landslide susceptibility models. Geomorphology 81:166–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Guzzetti F, Peruccacci S, Rossi M, Stark C (2007) Rainfall thresholds for the initiation of landslides in central and southern Europe. Meteorog Atmos Phys 98:239–267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Heyerdahl H, Harbitz CB, Domaas U, Sandersen F, Tronstad K, Nowacki F, Engen A, Kjekstad OD, Evoli G, Buezo SG, Diaz MR, Hernandez W (2003) Rainfall induced lahars in volcanic debris in Nicaragua and El Salvador: practical mitigation. In: Proceedings of International Conference on Fast Slope Movements-Prediction and Prevention for Risk Mitigation, IC-FSM2003, Patron Publ, Naples, pp 275–282Google Scholar
  32. Ho CS (1986) A synthesis of the geologic evolution of Taiwan. Tectonophysics 125:1–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ishihara Y, Kobatake S (1979) Runoff model for flood forecasting. Bulletin of Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto University 29:27–43Google Scholar
  34. Jan CD, Lee MH (2004) A debris flow rainfall-based warning model. J Chin Soil Water Conserv 35:275–285 (in Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  35. Janbu N, Bjerrum L, Kjaernsli B (1956) Stabilitestsbere Bning for Fyllinger Skjaeringer Ognaturlige Skraninger. Norwegian Geotechnical Publication 16, Oslo, NorwayGoogle Scholar
  36. Keefer DK (1984) Landslides caused by earthquakes. Geol Soc Am Bull 95:406–421CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Keefer DK, Wilson R, Mark R, Brabb E, Brown W, Ellen S, Harp E, Wieczorek G, Alger C, Zatkin R (1987) Real-time landslide warning during heavy rainfall. Science 238:921–925CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Khan YA, Lateh H, Baten MA, Kamil AA (2012) Critical antecedent rainfall conditions for shallow landslides in Chittagong City of Bangladesh. Environ Earth Sci 67:97–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kim SK, Hong WP, Kim YM (1991) Prediction of rainfall-triggered landslides in Korea. In: Bell DH (ed) Landslides. AA Balkema, Rotterdam, pp. 989–994Google Scholar
  40. Larsen M, Simon A (1993) A rainfall intensity–duration threshold for landslides in a humid-tropical environment: Puerto Rico. Geogr Ann A 75:13–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lee S, Ryu J, Kim I (2007) Landslide susceptibility analysis and its verification using likelihood ratio, logistic regression, and artificial neural network models: case study of Youngin, Korea. Landslides 4:327–338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Li YH (1976) Denudation of Taiwan island since the Pliocene epoch. Geology 4:105–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lin Z, Oguchi T, Chen YG, Saito K (2009) Constant-slope alluvial fans and source basins in Taiwan. Geology 37:787–790CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Malamud BD, Turcotte DL, Guzzetti F, Reichenbach P (2004a) Landslide inventories and their statistical properties. Earth Surf Proc Land 29:687–711CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Malamud BD, Turcotte DL, Guzzetti F, Reichenbach P (2004b) Landslides, earthquakes, and erosion. Earth Planet Sc Lett 229:45–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Melchiorre C, Matteucci M, Azzoni A, Zanchi A (2008) Artificial neural networks and cluster analysis in landslide susceptibility zonation. Geomorphology 94:379–400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Melillo M, Brunetti MT, Peruccacci S, Gariano SL, Guzzetti F (2015) An algorithm for the objective reconstruction of rainfall events responsible for landslides. Landslides 12:311–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Morgenstem NR, Price VE (1965) The analysis of the stability of general slip surface. Geotechnique 15:79–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Okada K, Makihara Y, Shimpo A, Nagata K, Kunitsugu M, Saito K (2001) Soil water index. Tenki 47:36–41Google Scholar
  50. Oku Y, Yoshino J, Takemi T, Ishikawa H (2014) Assessment of heavy rainfall-induced disaster potential based on an ensemble simulation of Typhoon Talas (2011) with controlled track and intensity. Nat Hazard Earth Sys 14:2699–2709CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Osanai N, Shimizu T, Kuramoto K, Kojima S, Noro T (2010) Japanese early-warning for debris flows and slope failures using rainfall indices with radial basis function network. Landslides 7:325–338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Pal M, Mather P (2003) An assessment of the effectiveness of decision tree methods for land cover classification. Remote Sens Environ 86:554–565CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Paudel U, Oguchi T, Hayakawa Y (2016) Multi-resolution landslide susceptibility analysis using a DEM and random Forest. Int J Geosci 7:726CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Rosi A, Peternel T, Jemec-Auflič M, Komac M, Segoni S, Casagli N (2016). Rainfall thresholds for rainfall-induced landslides in Slovenia. Landslides (Article in Press)Google Scholar
  55. Saito H, Matsuyama H (2012) Catastrophic landslide disasters triggered by record-breaking rainfall in Japan: their accurate detection with normalized soil water index. SOLA 8:81–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Saito H, Nakayama D, Matsuyama H (2009) Comparison of landslide susceptibility based on a decision-tree model and actual landslide occurrence: the Akaishi Mountains, Japan. Geomorphology 109:108–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Saito H, Nakayama D, Matsuyama H (2010a) Relationship between the initiation of a shallow landslide and rainfall intensity–duration thresholds in Japan. Geomorphology 118:167–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Saito H, Nakayama D, Matsuyama H (2010b) Two types of rainfall conditions associated with shallow landslide initiation in Japan as revealed by Normalized Soil Water Index. SOLA 6:57–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Saito H, Korup O, Uchida T, Hayashi S, Oguchi T (2014) Rainfall conditions, typhoon frequency, and contemporary landslide erosion in Japan. Geology 42:999-1002Google Scholar
  60. Saito H, Murakami W, Daimaru H, Oguchi T (2017) Effect of forest clear-cutting on landslide occurrences: analysis of rainfall thresholds at Mt. Ichifusa, Japan. Geomorphology 276:1–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Sassa K (2005) Landslide disasters triggered by the 2004 Mid-Niigata Prefecture earthquake in Japan. Landslides 2:135–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Yu SB, Chen HY, Kuo LC (1997) Velocity field of GPS stations in the Taiwan area. Tectonophysics 274:41–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Schneevoigt N, van der Linden S, Thamm H, Schrott L (2008) Detecting Alpine landforms from remotely sensed imagery. A pilot study in the Bavarian Alps. Geomorphology 93:104–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Segoni S, Battistini A, Rossi G, Rosi A, Lagomarsino D, Catani F, Moretti S, Casagli N (2015a) Technical note: an operational landslide early warning system at regional scale based on space–time-variable rainfall thresholds. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci 15:853–861CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Segoni S, Lagomarsino D, Fanti R, Moretti S, Casagli N (2015b) Integration of rainfall thresholds and susceptibility maps in the Emilia Romagna (Italy) regional-scale landslide warning system. Landslides 12:773–785CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Shieh SL (2000) User’s guide for typhoon forecasting in the Taiwan area (VIII). Central Weather Bureau, TaipeiGoogle Scholar
  67. Spencer E (1967) A method of analysis of the stability of embankments assuming parallel inter-slice forces. Geotechnique 12:11–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Sugawara M, Ozaki E, Watanabe I, Katsuyama Y (1974) Tank model and its application to Bird Creek, Wollombi Brook, Bikin River, Kitsu River, Sanaga River and Nam Mune. Res Note Natl Res Center Disaster Prev 11:1–64Google Scholar
  69. Tao T, Chocat B, Liu S, Xin K (2009) Uncertainty analysis of interpolation methods in rainfall spatial distribution—a case of small catchment in Lyon. J Environ Prot 1:50–58Google Scholar
  70. Teng LS (1990) Geotectonic evolution of late Cenozoic arc-continent collision in Taiwan. Tectonophysics 183:57–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Tiranti D, Rabuffetti D (2010) Estimation of rainfall thresholds triggering shallow landslides for an operational warning system implementation. Landslides 7:471–481CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Tiranti D, Rabuffetti D, Salandin A, Tararbra M (2013) Development of a new translational and rotational slides prediction model in Langhe hills (north-western Italy) and its application to the 2011 March landslide event. Landslides 10:121–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Tsangaratos P, Ilia I (2016) Landslide susceptibility mapping using a modified decision tree classifier in the Xanthi Perfection, Greece. Landslides 13:305–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Vessia G, Parise M, Brunetti MT, Peruccacci S, Rossi M, Vennari C, Guzzetti F (2014) Automated reconstruction of rainfall events responsible for shallow landslides. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci 14:2399–2408CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Wang B, Ho L (2002) Rainy season of the Asian-Pacific summer monsoon. J Clim 15:386–398CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Wieczorek GF, Glade T (2005) Climatic factors influencing occurrence of debris flows. In: Jakob M, Hunger O (eds) Debris-flow hazards and related phenomena. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, pp. 325–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Willett SD, Fisher D, Fuller C, Yeh EC, Lu CY (2003) Erosion rates and orogenic wedge kinematics in Taiwan inferred from apatite fission track thermochronometry. Geology 31:945–948CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Wu CC, Kuo YH (1999) Typhoons affecting Taiwan: current understanding and future challenges. B Am Meteorol Soc 80:67–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Xu M, Watanachaturaporn P, Varshney P, Arora M (2005) Decision tree regression for soft classification of remote sensing data. Remote Sens Environ 97:322–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Spatial Information ScienceUniversity of TokyoKashiwaJapan
  2. 2.National Science and Technology Center for Disaster ReductionXindin DistrictTaiwan
  3. 3.College of EconomicsKanto Gakuin UniversityYokohamaJapan

Personalised recommendations