Natural Hazards

, Volume 68, Issue 2, pp 745–762 | Cite as

A formation model for debris flows in the Chenyulan River Watershed, Taiwan

  • Bin YuEmail author
  • Li Li
  • Yufu Wu
  • Shengming Chu
Original Paper


Many debris flows were triggered in the Chenyulan River Watershed in Taiwan in a rainstorm caused by the Typhoon Toraji. There are 117 gullies with a significant steep topography in the catchment. During this Typhoon, debris flows were initiated in 43 of these gullies, while in 34 gullies, it was not certain whether they have occurred. High-intensity short-duration rainfall was the main triggering factor for these gully type debris flows which are probably entrained by a “fire hose” mechanism. Previous research identified 47 factors related to topography, geology, and hydrology, which may play a role in the formation of gully type debris flows. For a better understanding of the probability of the formation of debris flows, it is proposed to represent the factors related to topography, geology, and hydrology by one single factor. In addition to the existing topographic and geological factor, a normalized critical rainfall factor is suggested with an effective cumulative precipitation and a maximum hourly rainfall intensity. In this paper, a formation model for debris flows is proposed, which combines these topographic, geological, and hydraulic factors. A relationship of these factors with a triggering threshold is proposed. The model produces a good assessment of the probability of occurrence of debris flows in the study area. The model may be used for the prediction of debris flows in other areas because it is mostly based on the initiation mechanisms and not only on the statistical analyses of a unique variety of local factors. The research provides a new and exciting way to study the occurrence of debris flows initiated by a “fire hose” mechanism.


Formation model Debris flow Fire hose Typhoon Toraji Chenyulan River Watershed 



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 especially like to thank Hsien-Ter Chou and Su-Chin Chen for their suggestions and providing information. We thank the reviewers for their comments that helped us to greatly improve the presentation of this work. We are grateful to Dr. Theo van Asch for having provided a very helpful review of the manuscript and for help on the English editing of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Geohazard Prevention and Geoenvironment ProtectionChengdu University of TechnologyChengduChina
  2. 2.Southwest Geotechnical and Design Institute of China Nuclear IndustryChengduChina
  3. 3.Emergent Geohazards Center of Jiangxi ProvinceNanchangChina
  4. 4.Southwestern Architectural Design Institute Co. LtdChengduChina

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