Development and distribution of geohazards triggered by the 5.12 Wenchuan Earthquake in China

  • RunQiu Huang
  • WeiLe Li


As the Wenchuan Earthquake was of high magnitude and shallow seismic focus, it caused great damage and serious geohazards. By the field investigation and the interpretation of remote-sensing information after the earthquake and by using means of GIS technology, the distribution of geohazards triggered by the earthquake are analyzed and the conclusions are as follows: (1) The earthquake geohazards showed the feature of zonal distribution along the earthquake fault zone and linear distribution along the rivers; (2) the distribution of earthquake geohazards had a marked hanging wall effect, for the development density of geohazards in the hanging wall of earthquake fault zone was obviously higher than that in the foot wall and the width of strong development zone in the hanging wall was about 10 km; (3) the topographical slope was a main factor which controlled the development of earthquake geohazards and a vast majority of hazards were distributed on the slopes of 20° to 50°; (4) the earthquake geohazards had a corresponding relationship with the elevation and micro-landform, for most hazards happened in the river valleys and canyon sections below the elevation of 1500 to 2000 m, particularly in the upper segment of canyon sections (namely, the turning point from the dale to the canyon). Thin ridge, isolated or full-face space mountains were most sensitive to the seismic wave, and had a striking amplifying effect. In these areas, collapses and landslides were most likely to develop; (5) the study also showed that different lithologies determined the types of geohazards, and usually, landslides occurred in soft rocks, while collapses occurred in hard rocks.


5.12 Wenchuan Earthquake seismogenic geohazard distribution remote-sensing information hanging wall effect GIS analysis 


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© Science in China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Geohazard Prevention and Geoenvironment ProtectionChengdu University of TechnologyChengduChina

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