Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 173–190 | Cite as

Probabilistic seismic landslide hazard assessment: a case study in Tianshui, Northwest China

  • Tao Wang
  • Jia-mei LiuEmail author
  • Ju-song Shi
  • Meng-tan Gao
  • Shu-ren Wu


Probabilistic analysis in the field of seismic landslide hazard assessment is often based on an estimate of uncertainties of geological, geotechnical, geomorphological and seismological parameters. However, real situations are very complex and thus uncertainties of some parameters such as water content conditions and critical displacement are difficult to describe with accurate mathematical models. In this study, we present a probabilistic methodology based on the probabilistic seismic hazard analysis method and the Newmark’s displacement model. The Tianshui seismic zone (105°00′–106°00′ E, 34°20′–34°40′ N) in the northeastern Tibetan Plateau were used as an example. Arias intensity with three standard probabilities of exceedance (63%, 10%, and 2% in 50 years) in accordance with building design provisions were used to compute Newmark displacements by incorporating the effects of topographic amplification. Probable scenarios of water content condition were considered and three water content conditions (dry, wet and saturated) were adopted to simulate the effect of pore-water on slope. The influence of 5 cm and 10 cm critical displacements were investigated in order to analyze the sensitivity of critical displacement to the probabilities of earthquake-induced landslide occurrence. The results show that water content in particular, have a great influence on the distribution of high seismic landslide hazard areas. Generally, the dry coverage analysis represents a lower bound for susceptibility and hazard assessment, and the saturated coverage analysis represents an upper bound to some extent. Moreover, high seismic landslide hazard areas are also influenced by the critical displacements. The slope failure probabilities during future earthquakes with critical displacements of 5 cm can increase by a factor of 1.2 to 2.3 as compared to that of 10 cm. It suggests that more efforts are required in order to obtain reasonable threshold values for slope failure. Considering the probable scenarios of water content condition which is varied with seasons, seismic landslide hazard assessments are carried out for frequent, occasional and rare earthquake occurrences in the Tianshui region, which can provide a valuable reference for landslide hazard management and infrastructure design in mountainous seismic zones.


Probabilistic analysis Seismic hazard Newmark’s method Landslides Displacement model Hazard assessment 


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The research is funded by the National Key R&D Program (Grants No. 2018YFC1504601), National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grants No. 41572313 and 41702343), and China Geological Survey Project (Grant No. DD20190717). We also thank the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive criticism.


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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.Institute of GeomechanicsChinese Academy of Geological SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Active Tectonics and Crustal Stability AssessmentInstitute of Geomechanics, CAGSBeijingChina
  3. 3.China Institute for Geo-Environmental MonitoringBeijingChina
  4. 4.China Earthquake AdministrationInstitute of GeophysicsBeijingChina

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