, Volume 15, Issue 7, pp 1359–1375 | Cite as

Some considerations on the use of numerical methods to simulate past landslides and possible new failures: the case of the recent Xinmo landslide (Sichuan, China)

  • Gianvito ScaringiEmail author
  • Xuanmei FanEmail author
  • Qiang XuEmail author
  • Chun Liu
  • Chaojun Ouyang
  • Guillem Domènech
  • Fan Yang
  • Lanxin Dai
Original Paper


Rock avalanches represent a serious risk for human lives, properties, and infrastructures. On June 24, 2017, a catastrophic landslide destroyed the village of Xinmo (Maoxian County, Sichuan, China) causing a large number of fatalities. Adjacent to the landslide source area, further potentially unstable masses were identified. Among them, a 4.5-million m3 body, displaced during the landslide event by about 40 m, raised serious concerns. Field monitoring and a reliable secondary risk assessment are fundamental to protect the infrastructure and the population still living in the valley. In this framework, the use of distinct element methods and continuum model methods to simulate the avalanche process was discussed. Various models (PFC, MatDEM, MassMov2D, Massflow) were used with the aim of reproducing the Xinmo landslide and, as predictive tools, simulating the kinematics and runout of the potentially unstable mass, which could cause a new catastrophic event. The models were all able to reproduce the first-order characteristics of the landslide kinematics and the morphology of the deposit, but with computational times differing by several orders of magnitude. More variability of the results was obtained from the simulations of the potential secondary failure. However, all models agreed that the new landslide could invest several still-inhabited buildings and block the course of the river again. Comparison and discussion of the performances and usability of the models could prove useful towards the enforcement of physically based (and multi-model) risk assessments and mitigation countermeasures.


Landslide Numerical modeling Landslide risk assessment Rock avalanche Discrete element method Continuum model method 



This research is financially supported by the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars of China (Grant No. 41225011), the Fund for International Cooperation (NSFC-RCUK_NERC), Resilience to Earthquake-induced landslide risk in China (Grant No. 41661134010), the Fund for Creative Research Groups of China (Grant No. 41521002), and National Science Fund for Outstanding Young Scholars of China (Grant No. 41622206). The authors thank Dr. Weile Li, Dr. Xiujun Dong, Qing Yang, and Jing Ren for their supports in collecting the baseline data.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The State Key Laboratory of Geohazard Prevention and Geoenvironment Protection (SKLGP)Chengdu University of TechnologyChengduChina
  2. 2.Chengdu University of TechnologyChengduChina
  3. 3.Nanjing UniversityNanjingChina
  4. 4.Institute of Mountain Hazards and EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina

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