Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 282–290 | Cite as

Analysis of earthquake-triggered failure mechanisms of slopes and sliding surfaces

  • Jian Wang
  • Lingkan Yao
  • Arshad Hussain


Earthquake-induced landslides along the Dujiangyan-Yingxiu highway after the Ms 8.0 Wenchuan earthquake in 2008 were investigated. It was found that: (1) slopes were shattered and damaged during the earthquake and open tension cracks formed on the tops of the slopes; (2) the upper parts of slopes collapsed and slid, while the lower parts remained basically intact, indicating that the upper parts of slopes would be damaged more heavily than the lower parts during an earthquake.

Large-scale shaking table model tests were conducted to study failure behavior of slopes under the Wenchuan seismic wave, which reproduced the process of deformation and failure of slopes. Tension cracks emerged at the top and upper part of model, while the bottom of the model remained intact, consistent with field investigations. Depth of the tension crack at the top of model is 32 cm, i.e., 3.2 m compared to the prototype natural slope with a height of 14 m when the length scale ratio (proto/model) is 10. Acceleration at the top of the slope was almost twice as large as that at the toe when the measured accelerations on shaking table are 4.85 m/s2 and 6.49 m/s2, which means that seismic force at the top of the slope is twice the magnitude of that at the toe.

By use of the dynamic-strength-reduction method, numerical simulation was conducted to explore the process and mechanism of formation of the sliding surface, with other quantified information. The earthquake-induced failure surfaces commonly consist of tension cracks and shear zones. Within 5 m from the top of the slope, the dynamic sliding surface will be about 1 m shallower than the pseudo-static sliding surface in a horizontal direction when the peak ground acceleration (PGA) is 1 m/s2; the dynamic sliding surface will be about 2 m deeper than the pseudo-static sliding surface in a horizontal direction when the PGA is 10 m/s2, and the depths of the dynamic sliding surface and the pseudo-static sliding surface will be almost the same when the PGA is 2 m/s2.

Based on these findings, it is suggested that the key point of anti-seismic design, as well as for mitigation of post-earthquake, secondary mountain hazards, is to prevent tension cracks from forming in the upper part of the slope. Therefore, the depth of tension cracks in slope surfaces is the key to reinforcement of slopes. The depth of the sliding surface from the pseudo-static method can be a reference for slope reinforcement mitigation.

Key words

Subgrade engineering slope failure mechanism shaking table model test seismic sliding surface Wenchuan earthquake 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jian Wang
    • 1
  • Lingkan Yao
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Arshad Hussain
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Civil EngineeringSouthwest Jiaotong UniversityChengduChina
  2. 2.MOE Key Laboratory of High-speed Railway EngineeringSouthwest Jiaotong UniversityChengduChina
  3. 3.Road and Railway Engineering Research InstituteSichuan Key Laboratory of Aseismic Engineering and TechnologyChengduChina
  4. 4.National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST)IslamabadPakistan

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