Natural Hazards

, Volume 65, Issue 1, pp 835–849 | Cite as

Case study of a giant debris flow in the Wenjia Gully, Sichuan Province, China

  • Bin Yu
  • Yu Ma
  • Yufu Wu
Original Paper


The debris flow, which was triggered in the Wenjia Gully on August 13, 2010, is an extreme example of mass movement events, which occurred after the Wenchuan earthquake of May 12, 2008. This Earthquake triggered in the Wenjia Gully the second largest co-seismic landslide, which can be classified as a rockslide-debris avalanche. A lot of loose sediments was deposited in the basin. In the main so called Deposition Area II of this landslide, with a volume of 30 × 106 m3, flash floods can easily trigger debris flows because of the steep bottom slope and the relative small grain sizes of the sediments. The largest debris flow of August 13, 2010 destroyed the most downstream dam in the catchment during a heavy rain storm. The debris flow with a peak discharge of 1,530 m3/s and a total volume of 3.1 × 106 m3 caused the death of 7 persons, 5 persons were missing, 39 persons were injured and 479 houses buried. After three rainy seasons, only 16 % of the landslide-debris deposition was taken away by 5 large-scale debris flow events. Since the threshold for rainfall triggered debris flows in the Wenjia Gully and other catchments drastically decreased after the Wenchuan Earthquake, new catastrophic events are expected in the future during the rainy season.


Wenchuan earthquake Wenjia Gully Co-seismic rockslide-debris avalanche Rainfall triggered debris flows Yield strength Peak discharges Meteorological threshold for debris flows 



This work was supported by The National Nature Science Foundation of China (NSFC, contract number: 40871054) and The State Key Laboratory of Geohazard Prevention and Geoenvironment Protection Foundation (contract number: SKLGP2010Z004). We would like to thank the witness: Mr. J. Yang and local citizens who help us investigate and kindly provided us the photographs. The authors would like to thank Dr. Theo van Asch for his help on the English editing of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Geohazard Prevention and Geoenvironment ProtectionChengdu University of TechnologyChengduChina
  2. 2.Engineering and Technical CollegeChengdu University of TechnologyLeshanChina

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