, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 953–965 | Cite as

Topographic and geologic controls on landslides induced by the 2015 Gorkha earthquake and its aftershocks: an example from the Trishuli Valley, central Nepal

  • Ching-Ying Tsou
  • Masahiro Chigira
  • Daisuke Higaki
  • Go Sato
  • Hiroshi Yagi
  • Hiroshi P. Sato
  • Akihiko Wakai
  • Vishnu Dangol
  • Shanmukhesh C. Amatya
  • Akiyo Yatagai
Original Paper


The devastating Gorkha earthquake (M w 7.8) on April 25, 2015 and its aftershocks triggered numerous landslides across the Lesser and Higher Himalayas of central Nepal. This study aims to characterize these landslides, based on the local topography and geology, and to develop data for landslide hazard zoning. This study focused on a mountainous catchment of the Trishuli River, where a digital elevation model was used to examine hilllslope and river profiles, aerial photos were used to identify 155 coherent landslides, and satellite images were used to map 912 earthquake-induced landslides. The topography of this area is mainly characterized by incised V-shaped inner gorges and steep (> 35°) SW-facing scarp slopes. Although most of the coherent landslides were not reactivated by the earthquakes, the Gogane landslide was affected by the earthquake and partly failed. A majority of the earthquake-induced landslides (91%) were new landslides, while the others were enlarged old landslides. The earthquake-induced landslides occurred mainly on the steep slopes of V-shaped inner gorges and scarp slopes, in gneiss and quartzite strata of the Lesser Himalayas, and they were primarily associated with fractured rock masses. This analysis provides a framework for zoning areas vulnerable to earthquake-induced landslides.


Earthquake Landslide Inner gorge Scarp slope Nepal 



This study was funded by the Japan–Nepal Urgent Collaborative Projects regarding the April 2015 Nepal earthquake within the J-RAPID Program of the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST-PROJECT-15657342), JSPS KAKENHI (Grant Numbers 16H03149, 17H02973) and the Collaborative Center Research 28-1 of the Disaster Prevention Research Institute of Kyoto University. The authors thank Google Earth for processing and openly providing high-resolution imagery of the study area. The research team of the Environment Planning on Mountainous Area Laboratory of the Hirosaki University for Satellite Data Utilization Project (SDUP), initiated by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism (MLIT) of Japan, provided useful information for landslide mapping. We acknowledge the Department of Water Induced Disaster Management (DWIDM) of Nepal, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), and Beyond Base Camp Treks & Expeditions for kindly providing logistical support during field work. We are also indebted to Mr. Samjwal Bajracharya and Mr. Pradeep Kumar Mool of ICIMOD, Dr. Masao Yamada of Information Conservation Engineers, and Dr. Kazunori Hayashi of Okuyama Boring for the useful discussions.


  1. Angster S, Fielding EJ, Wesnousky S et al (2015) Field reconnaissance after the 25 April 2015 M 7.8 Gorkha earthquake. Seismol Res Lett 86:1506–1513CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Avouac JP (2003) Mountain building, erosion, and the seismic cycle in the Nepal Himalaya. Adv Geophys 46:1–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bhakuni SS, Luirei K, Kothyari GC (2013) Neotectonic fault in the middle part of Lesser Himalaya, Arunachal Pradesh: a study based on structural and morphotectonic analyses. Himal Geol 34:57–64Google Scholar
  4. Brunsden D (2001) A critical assessment of the sensitivity concept in geomorphology. Catena 42:99–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burbank DW (2002) Rates of erosion and their implications for exhumation. Mineral Mag 66:25–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chigira M, XY W, Inokuchi T et al (2010) Landslides induced by the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, Sichuan, China. Geomorphology 118:225–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Clarke BA, Burbank DW (2011) Quantifying bedrock-fracture patterns within the shallow subsurface: implications for rock mass strength, bedrock landslides, and erodibility. J Geophys Res Earth 116:22.
  8. Collins BD, Jibson RW (2015) Assessment of existing and potential landslide hazards resulting from the April 25, 2015 Gorkha, Nepal earthquake Sequence (ver. 1.1, August 2015)Google Scholar
  9. DHM (2015) Study of climate and climatic variation over Nepal. Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, Kathmandu, Nepal. (Accessed on 1 Sept 2017)
  10. Duputel Z, Vergne J, Rivera L et al (2016) The 2015 Gorkha earthquake: a large event illuminating the Main Himalayan Thrust fault. Geophys Res Lett 43:2517–2525CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Harvey JE, Burbank DW, Bookhagen B (2015) Along-strike changes in Himalayan thrust geometry: topographic and tectonic discontinuities in western Nepal. Lithosphere 7:511–518CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hodges KV, Hurtado JM, Whipple KX (2001) Southward extrusion of Tibetan crust and its effect on Himalayan tectonics. Tectonics 20:799–809CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kargel JS, Leonard GJ, Shugar DH, Haritashya UK, Bevington A, Fielding EJ, Fujita K, Geertsema M, Miles ES, Steiner J, Anderson E, Bajracharya S, Bawden GW, Breashears DF, Byers A, Collins B, Dhital MR, Donnellan A, Evans TL, Geai ML, Glasscoe MT, Green D, Gurung DR, Heijenk R, Hilborn A, Hudnut K, Huyck C, Immerzeel WW, Liming J, Jibson R, Kääb A, Khanal NR, Kirschbaum D, Kraaijenbrink PDA, Lamsal D, Shiyin L, Mingyang L, McKinney D, Nahirnick NK, Zhuotong N, Ojha S, Olsenholler J, Painter TH, Pleasants M, Pratima KC, Yuan Q, Raup BH, Regmi D, Rounce DR, Sakai A, Donghui S, Shea JM, Shrestha AB, Shukla A, Stumm D, Kooij Mvd, Voss K, Xin W, Weihs B, Wolfe D, Lizong W, Xiaojun Y, Yoder MR, Young N (2016) Geomorphic and geologic controls of geohazards induced by Nepal’s 2015 Gorkha earthquake. Science 351(6269).
  14. Keefer DK (1984) Landslides caused by earthquakes. Bull Geol Soc Am 95:406–421CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kelsey HM (1988) Formation of inner gorges. Catena 15:433–458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lacroix P (2016) Landslides triggered by the Gorkha earthquake in the Langtang valley, volumes and initiation processes. Earth Planets Space 68:46.
  17. Lave J, Avouac JP (2001) Fluvial incision and tectonic uplift across the Himalayas of central Nepal. J Geophys Res Solid Earth 106:26561–26591CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Martha TR, Roy P, Mazumdar R et al (2017) Spatial characteristics of landslides triggered by the 2015 Mw 7.8 (Gorkha) and Mw 7.3 (Dolakha) earthquakes in Nepal. Landslides 14:697–704CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Molnar P, Deng Q (1984) Faulting associated with large earthquakes and the average rate of deformation in the central and eastern Asia. J Geophys Res 89:6203–6227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Owen LA, Kamp U, Khattak GA et al (2008) Landslides triggered by the 8 October 2005 Kashmir earthquake. Geomorphology 94:1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Pfeffer WT, Arendt AA, Bliss A, Bolch T, Cogley JG, Gardner AS, Hagen JO, Hock R, Kaser G, Kienholz C, Miles ES, Moholdt G, Molg N, Paul F, Radic V, Rastner P, Raup BH, Rich J, Sharp MJ, Andeassen LM, Bajracharya S, Barrand NE, Beedle MJ, Berthier E, Bhambri R, Brown I, Burgess DO, Burgess EW, Cawkwell F, Chinn T, Copland L, Cullen NJ, Davies B, De Angelis H, Fountain AG, Frey H, Giffen BA, Glasser NF, Gurney SD, Hagg W, Hall DK, Haritashya UK, Hartmann G, Herreid S, Howat I, Jiskoot H, Khromova TE, Klein A, Kohler J, Konig M, Kriegel D, Kutuzov S, Lavrentiev I, Le Bris R, Li X, Manley WF, Mayer C, Menounos B, Mercer A, Mool P, Negrete A, Nosenko G, Nuth C, Osmonov A, Pettersson R, Racoviteanu A, Ranzi R, Sarikaya MA, Schneider C, Sigurdsson O, Sirguey P, Stokes CR, Wheate R, Wolken GJ, Wu LZ, Wyatt FR, The Randolph Consortium (2014) The Randolph Glacier Inventory: a globally complete inventory of glaciers. J Glaciol 60:537–552Google Scholar
  22. Roback K, Clark MK, West AJ, Zekkos D, Li G, Gallen SF, Chamlagain D, Godt JF (2017) The size, distribution, and mobility of landslides caused by the 2015 Mw7.8 Gorkha earthquake, Nepal. Geomorphology.
  23. Sapkota SN, Bollinger L, Perrier F (2016) Fatality rates of the M-w similar to 8.2, 1934, Bihar-Nepal earthquake and comparison with the April 2015 Gorkha earthquake. Earth Planets Space 68:40.
  24. Sato HP, Hasegawa H, Fujiwara S et al (2007) Interpretation of landslide distribution triggered by the 2005 Northern Pakistan earthquake using SPOT 5 imagery. Landslides 4:113–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Seeber L, Gornitz V (1983) River profiles along the Himalayan arc as indicators of active tectonics. Tectonophysics 92:335–367CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Shrestha DB, Shrestha JN (1986) Geological map of Central Nepal. Scale: 1:250000. Department of Mines and Geology, KathmanduGoogle Scholar
  27. Tiwari B, Ajmera B, Dhital S (2017) Characteristics of moderate- to large-scale landslides triggered by the Mw 7.8 2015 Gorkha earthquake and its aftershocks. Landslides.
  28. Wakai A, Ugai K (2004) A simple constitutive model for the seismic analysis of slopes and its applications. Soils Found 44:83–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Wobus CW, Hodges KV, Whipple KX (2003) Has focused denudation sustained active thrusting at the Himalayan topographic front? Geology 31:861–864CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Wobus C, Heimsath A, Whipple K et al (2005) Active out-of-sequence thrust faulting in the central Nepalese Himalaya. Nature 434:1008–1011CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Wobus CW, Crosby BT, Whipple KX (2006) Hanging valleys in fluvial systems: controls on occurrence and implications for landscape evolution. J Geophys Res Earth 111.
  32. Xu C, Shyu JBH, Xu X (2014) Landslides triggered by the 12 January 2010 Port-au-Prince, Haiti, M-w=7.0 earthquake: visual interpretation, inventory compiling, and spatial distribution statistical analysis. Nat Hazards Earth Syst 14:1789–1818CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Yagi H (2001) Landslide study using aerial photographs. International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, KathmanduGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ching-Ying Tsou
    • 1
  • Masahiro Chigira
    • 2
  • Daisuke Higaki
    • 1
  • Go Sato
    • 3
  • Hiroshi Yagi
    • 4
  • Hiroshi P. Sato
    • 5
  • Akihiko Wakai
    • 6
  • Vishnu Dangol
    • 7
  • Shanmukhesh C. Amatya
    • 8
  • Akiyo Yatagai
    • 9
  1. 1.Department of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Agriculture and Life ScienceHirosaki UniversityAomoriJapan
  2. 2.Disaster Prevention Research InstituteKyoto UniversityUjiJapan
  3. 3.Graduate school of Environmental InformationTeikyo Heisei UniversityTokyoJapan
  4. 4.Faculty of Education, Art and ScienceYamagata UniversityYamagataJapan
  5. 5.Department of Geography, College of Humanities and SciencesNihon UniversityTokyoJapan
  6. 6.Department of Civil EngineeringGunma UniversityMaebashiJapan
  7. 7.Department of Geology, Tri-Chandra CampusTribhuvan UniversityKathmanduNepal
  8. 8.Department of Water Induced Disaster ManagementLalitpurNepal
  9. 9.Global Environment and Disaster Prevention Sciences FacultyHirosaki UniversityAomoriJapan

Personalised recommendations