Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 156–172 | Cite as

Effects of loose deposits on debris flow processes in the Aizi Valley, southwest China

  • Mei Liu
  • Yong Zhang
  • Shu-feng Tian
  • Ning-sheng ChenEmail author
  • Rahman Mahfuzr
  • Iqbal Javed


Loose deposits, rainfall and topography are three key factors that triggering debris flows. However, few studies have investigated the effects of loose deposits on the whole debris flow process. On June 28, 2012, a catastrophic debris flow occurred in the Aizi Valley, resulting in 40 deaths. The Aizi Valley is located in the Lower Jinsha River, southwestern Sichuan Province, China. The Aizi Valley debris flow has been selected as a case for addressing loose deposits effects on the whole debris flow process through remote sensing, field investigation and field experiments. Remote sensing interpretation and laboratory experiments were used to obtain the distribution and characteristics of the loose deposits, respectively. A field experiment was conducted to explore the mechanics of slope debris flows, and another field investigation was conducted to obtain the processes of debris flow formation, movement and amplification. The results showed that loose deposits preparation, slope debris flow initiation, gully debris flow confluence and valley debris flow amplification were dominated by the loose deposits. Antecedent droughts and earthquake activities may have increased the potential for loose soil sources in the Aizi Valley, which laid the foundation for debris flow formation. Slope debris flow initiated under rainfall, and the increase in the water content as well as the pore water pressure of the loose deposits were the key factors affecting slope failure. The nine gully debris flows converged in the valley, and the peak discharge was amplified 3.3 times due to a blockage and outburst caused by a large boulder. The results may help in predicting and assessing regional debris flows in dry-hot and seismic-prone areas based on loose deposits, especially considering large boulders.


Aizi Valley Loose deposits Debris flow process Slope debris flow Boulder blockage Discharge amplification 


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This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41861134008 and 41601476), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant No. 2018YFC1505202) and the 135 Strategic Program of the IMHE, CAS (Grant No. SDS-135-1705).


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Lab of Mountain Hazards and Surface Processes, Institute of Mountain Hazards and EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Department of Civil EngineeringInternational University of Business Agriculture and TechnologyDhakaBangladesh
  4. 4.Department of geologyThe university of HaripurHaripurPakistan

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