, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 1503–1512 | Cite as

Shear wave velocity imaging of landslide debris deposited on an erodible bed and possible movement mechanism for a loess landslide in Jingyang, Xi’an, China

  • Jianbing Peng
  • Gonghui WangEmail author
  • Qiyao Wang
  • Fanyu Zhang
Technical Note


The South Jingyang Plateau, with a total area of 70 km2, is located in Shaanxi Province, China. Since 1976, more than 50 landslides of different types have occurred repeatedly on the edge slopes of the plateau due to the start of diversion irrigation on the plateau, resulting in great loss of lives and property. To better understand the initiation and movement mechanisms of these loess landslides, we surveyed them and carried out a detailed investigation of a large landslide in the Xihetan area. Our field survey results revealed that although most of these landslides had a long runout with high mobility, most of the landslide materials originating from the edge slopes may have been in an unsaturated state when the landslide occurred. This suggests that the materials at the toe of the edge slope as well as on the travel path along the river terrace might have played a key role in landslide movement. To examine how the materials on the travel path were involved in the landsliding, we used a multichannel surface wave technique and surveyed shear wave velocity (V s ) profiles of the landslide deposits. We also examined the internal geometry of the deposits that outcropped on the right-side slope of the landslide foot. The longitudinal profile of V s along the direction of movement showed that terrace deposits near the toe of the edge slope may have been sheared upward, indicating that at the toe, the surface of rupture might be located inside the terrace deposits. The V s contours showed an A-shaped fold within the landslide deposits in the middle part of the travel path and became greater in the most distal toe part. The V s profile across the deposits showed a U-shaped belt, in which the soil layers have smaller V s . This belt may be the boundary between the sliding landslide debris and terrace deposits. The observed internal geometry of the landslide deposits indicates that a sliding surface developed within the sandy layer underlying the gravel layer. Therefore, we inferred that after failure, the displaced landslide materials overrode and sheared the terrace deposits along its main sliding direction, resulting in the formation of thrust folds within the terrace deposits, and greater V s on the distal toe part of the landslide.


Landslide Loess Plateau Edge slope Shear wave velocity Internal structure Landslide deposits 



This work was financially supported by the grant of the Key Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41130753), the National Basic Research Program of China (973 program) (No. 2014CB744700), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41402240). This research was also partially supported by JSPS KAKENHI (Grant Number 15H01797). Valuable English editing by Dr. Eileen McSaveney (GNS Science, New Zealand) is appreciated. Finally, the author’s special thanks go to the Editor and referees of this paper for their useful comments used to revise the manuscript.


  1. Close U, McCormick E (1922) Where the mountains walked. The National Geographic Magazine 41(5):445–464Google Scholar
  2. Derbyshire E, Mellors TW (1988) Geological and geotechnical characteristic of some loess and loessic soil from China and Britain: a comparison. Eng Geol 25:135–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Derbyshire E, Dijkstra TA, Smalley I, Li YJ (1994) Failure mechanisms in loess and the effects of moisture content changes on remoulded strength. Quat Int 24:5–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Derbyshire E, Meng XM, Dijkstra TA (eds) (2000) Landslides in the thick loess terrain of north-west China. Wiley, Chichester (288 pp) Google Scholar
  5. Dey A (2015) Subsurface profiling using MASW: aspects of data acquisition, dispersion and inversion analyses. QIP-STC on Challenges and Recent Advances in Geotechnical Engineering Research and Practices, IIT Guwahati, Conference: CAGERP 2015, Challenges and Recent Advances in Geotechnical Engineering Research and Practice, Guwahati, IndiaGoogle Scholar
  6. Dijkstra TA, Rogers CDF, Smalley I, Derbyshire E, Li YJ, Meng XM (1994) The loess of north-central China: geotechnical properties and their relation to slope stability. Eng Geol 36:153–171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Duan L, Wang WK, Sun YB, Zhang CC (2016) Iodine in groundwater of the Guanzhong Basin, China: sources and hydrogeochemical controls on its distribution. Environ Earth Sci 75:970. doi: 10.1007/s12665-016-5781-4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gao GR (1988) Formation and development of the structure of collapsing loess in China. Eng Geol 25:235–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gibbs HJ, Holland WY (1960) Petrographic and engineering properties of loess. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Denver. Engineering Monographs 28:1–37Google Scholar
  10. Hayashi K, Suzuki H (2004) CMP cross-correlation analysis of multi-channel surface-wave data. Explor Geophys 35:7–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hayashi K, Inazaki T, Suzuki H (2006) Buried incised-channels delineation using microtremor array measurements at Soka and Misato Cities in Saitama prefecture. Bull Geol Surv Japan 57:309–325 (in Japanese with English abstract) CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hayashi K, Hirade T, Liba M, Inazaki T, Takahashi H (2008) Site investigation by surface-wave method and micro-tremor array measurements at central Anamizu, Ishikawa prefecture. BUTSURI-TANSA (Geophysical Exploration) 61:483–498 (in Japanese with English abstract) CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. He XL, Xie WL, Ding Y (2010) Study on triaxial test of shear strength of loess in southern Jingyang County. J Eng Geol 18(S1):76–87Google Scholar
  14. Hungr O, Leroueil S, Picarelli L (2014) The Varnes classification of landslide types, an update. Landslides 11(2):167–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jin YL, Dai FC (2007) The mechanism of irrigation-induced landslides of loess. Chinese Journal of Geotechnical Engineering 29(10):1493–1499 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  16. Lei XY (1994) The hazards of loess landslides in the southern plateau of Jingyang County, Shaanxi and their relationship with the channel water into fields. Chinese Journal of Engineering Geology 3(1):56–64 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  17. Lei XY (2011) Geo-hazards in Loess Plateau and human activity. Science Press, Beijing (In Chinese) Google Scholar
  18. Li SD, Zeng SW (1988) On another type of debris flow—the landslide type debris flow and the example of Liujiapu debris flow, Gansu Province. J Asian Earth Sci 76:70–84 (Journal of soil and water conservation, 4, 66–71) Google Scholar
  19. Li W, Long JH, Li TL, Li P, Zhang CL (2012) Residual shear strength characteristics of landslide soil in loess landslide of Jingyang Southern Highland, Shaanxi. J Earth Sci Environ 34(4):95–101 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  20. Li P, Vanapalli S, Li TL (2016) Review of collapse triggering mechanism of collapsible soils due to wetting. J Rock Mech Geotech Eng 8:256–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Liao HJ, Li T, Peng JB (2011) Study of strength characteristics of high and steep slope landslide mass loess. Rock Soil Mech 32(7):1939–1944Google Scholar
  22. Lin ZG, Liang WM (1982) Engineering properties and zoning of loess and loess-like soils in China. Can Geotech J 19(1):76–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Liu TS (1985) Loess and the environment. Science Press, Beijing, p 215Google Scholar
  24. Long JH, Li TL, Lei XF, Yang SQ (2007) Study on physical properties of soil in sliding zone of loess landslip. Chinese Journal of Geotechnical Engineering 29(2):289–293 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  25. Long JH, Guo WB, Li P, Li TL (2010) Creep property of soil in sliding zone of loess landslide. Chinese Journal of Geotechnical Engineering 32(7):1023–1028Google Scholar
  26. Miller RD, Xia J, Park CB, Ivanov J (1999) Multichannel analysis of surface waves to map bedrock. Lead Edge 18:1392–1396Google Scholar
  27. Pan YB, Ning CM, Liao HJ (2007) Case analysis of landslides in loess tableland area and physical properties experimental study. Chinese Journal of Soil Engineering and Foundation 21(3):42–44 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  28. Park CB, Miller RD, Xia J (1999) Multichannel analysis of surface waves. Geophysics 64:800–808CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Peng DL, Xu Q, Qi X, Fan XM, Dong XJ, Li S, Ju YZ (2016) Study on early recognition of loess landslides based on field investigation. International Journal of Geohazards and Environment 2:35–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Qi X, Xu Q, Li B, Peng DL, Zhou F (2016) Preliminary study on mechanism of surface water infiltration at Heifangtai loess landslides in Gansu. Chinese Journal of Engineering Geology 24(3):418–424 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  31. Shroder JF, Schettler MJ, Weihs BJ (2011) Loess failure in northeast Afghanistan. Phys Chem Earth 36:1287–1293CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Wang JD (1992) A mechanism for high-speed loess landslides-creeping and liquefaction of saturated loess. Geological Review 38(6):532–539 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  33. Wang JD, Liu Y (1999) A further study on the mechanism of high speed loess landslides in state creeping and sliding liquefaction. Journal of Northwest University 29(1):79–82 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  34. Wang DY, Du ZC, Zhang MS (2004a) Geological hazard of cliff collapse, landslide and their occurrence in southern Jingyang county of Shaanxi Province. Bulletin of Soil and Water Conservation 24(4):34–37Google Scholar
  35. Wang Z, Wu W, Zhou Z (2004b) Landslide induced by over-irrigation in loess platform areas in Gansu Province. The Chinese Journal of Geological Hazard and Control 15:43–46 (in Chinese) Google Scholar
  36. Wang HB, Zhou B, Wu SR, Shi JS, Li B (2011) Characteristic analysis of large-scale loess landslides: a case study in Baoji City of Loess Plateau of northwest China. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci 11:1829–1837CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Wang B, Zheng HB, Wang P, He Z (2013) The Cenozoic strata and depositional evolution of Weihe Basin: progresses and problems. Adv Earth Science 28(10):1126–1135Google Scholar
  38. Wang G, Zhang D, Furuya G, Yang J (2014) Pore-pressure generation and fluidization in a loess landslide triggered by the 1920 Haiyuan earthquake, China: a case study. Eng Geol 174:36–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wathelet M, Jongmans D, Ohrnberger M, Bonnefoy-Claudet S (2008) Array performances for ambient vibrations on a shallow structure and consequences over V s inversion. J Seismol 12:1–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Xia J (2014) Estimation of near-surface shear-wave velocities and quality factors using multichannel analysis of surface-wave methods. J Appl Geophys 103:140–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Xia J, Miller RD, Park CB (1999) Estimation of near-surface shear-wave velocity by inversion of Rayleigh waves. Geophysics 64(3):691–700CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Xia J, Miller RD, Park CB, Hunter JA, Harris JB, Ivanov J (2002) Comparing shear-wave velocity profiles inverted from multichannel surface wave with borehole measurements. Soil Dyn Earthq Eng 22(3):181–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Xia J, Chen C, Li PH, Lewis MJ (2004) Delineation of a collapse feature in a noisy environment using a multichannel surface wave technique. Géotechnique 54(1):17–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Xu L, Dai FC (2008) Statistical analysis of the characteristic parameters of loess landslides at the South Jingyang Plateau. Hydrogeology and Engineering Geology 35(5):28–32.Google Scholar
  45. Xu L, Dai F, Kwong AKL, Tham LG, Tu XB (2009) Analysis of some special engineering-geological problems of loess landslide. Chinese Journal of Geotechnical Engineering 31(2):287–293Google Scholar
  46. Xu L, Dai FC, Min H, Kwong AKL (2010) Loess landslide types and topographic features at South Jingyang Plateau, China. Earth Science-Journal of China University of Geosciences 35(1):155–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Xu L, Dai FC, Tham LG, Tu XB, Min H, Zhou YF, Wu CX, Xu K (2011) Field testing of irrigation effects on the stability of a cliff edge in loess, north-west China. Eng Geol 120:10–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Xu L, Dai FC, Gong QM, Tham LG, Min H (2012) Irrigation-induced loess flow failure in Heifangtai platform, north-west China. Environmental Earth Sciences 66(6):1707–1713CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Xu L, Dai FC, Tu XB, Javed I, Woodard MJ, Jin YL, Tham LG (2013) Occurrence of landsliding on slopes where flowsliding had previously occurred: an investigation in a loess platform, north-west China. Catena 104:195–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Xu L, Li HJ, Wu DX (2008) Analysis of surface water infiltration for loess landslide at terrain edge. Chinese Journal of Geology Hazards and Control 19(2):32–35 (in Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  51. Xu XQ, Su LJ, Zhang GD, Zhu HH (2016) Analysis on shear wave velocity structure of a gravel landslide based on dual-source surface wave method. Landslides (published online: 19 November 2016). doi: 10.1007/s10346-016-0780-9 Google Scholar
  52. Yang F, Chang W, Wang FW, Li TL (2014) Motion simulation of rapid long run-out loess landslide at Dongfeng in Jingyang, Shaanxi. J Eng Geol 22(5):890–895Google Scholar
  53. Zhang DX, Wang G (2007) Study of the 1920 Haiyuan earthquake-induced landslides in loess (China). Eng Geol 94:76–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Zhang DX, Wang G, Luo C, Chen J, Zhou Y (2009) A rapid loess flowslide triggered by irrigation in China. Landslides 6:55–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Zhang FY, Wang G, Kamai T, Chen WW, Zhang DX, Yang J (2013) Undrained shear behaviors of saturated loess at different concentrations of sodium chlorate solution. Eng Geol 155:69–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Zhou YF (2012) Study on landslides in loess slope due to infiltration. PhD thesis, the University of Hong Kong, Hong KongGoogle Scholar
  57. Zhou YF, Tham LG, Yan WM, Dai FC, Xu L (2014) Laboratory study on soil behavior in loess slope subjected to infiltration. Eng Geol 183:31–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jianbing Peng
    • 1
  • Gonghui Wang
    • 2
    Email author
  • Qiyao Wang
    • 1
  • Fanyu Zhang
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Geological EngineeringChang’an UniversityXi’anChina
  2. 2.Research Center on Landslides, Disaster Prevention Research InstituteKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  3. 3.MOE Key Laboratory of Mechanics on Disaster and Environment in Western ChinaLanzhou UniversityLanzhouPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations