Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 62, Issue 2, pp 411–419 | Cite as

Numerical simulation of Qiaotou Landslide deformation caused by drawdown of the Three Gorges Reservoir, China

  • Jiwei JiangEmail author
  • Dominik Ehret
  • Wei Xiang
  • Joachim Rohn
  • Ling Huang
  • Shaojun Yan
  • Renneng Bi
Original Article


Landslides located beside reservoirs tend to be unstable or are characterized by large deformation during the drawdown process. This has been accepted by many experts. In this paper, we use Qiaotou Landslide, which is located beside the Three Gorges Reservoir (TGR), as a typical case study to investigate and predict the deformation mechanism during the drawdown process of TGR in detail. According to field investigation, the landslide mass is mainly composed of thick, loose silt and clay mixed with fragments of rock. Bedrock is mainly composed of silty sandstone. Field and laboratory tests indicate that the landslide mass has a high permeability coefficient. If the water level declines fast, intense seepage force may result. Based on these data, we establish a three-dimensional geological model of Qiaotou Landslide by FLAC3D and perform a numerical simulation using the saturated–unsaturated fluid–solid coupling theory. For the simulation, we assume that the drawdown from 175 to 145 m takes place with a speed of 25 cm/day, which is based on the extreme water level regulation program of TGR. The simulation shows that this causes a significant deformation in the landslide mass and that the maximum displacement within the landslide is 24.2 cm. During the drawdown process, the maximum displacement zone is shifting from the upper part of the landslide where bedrock surface is steeper and thickness of loose deposits is less to the middle part of the landslide where bedrock surface is less steep and thickness of loose deposits is higher. The deformation mechanism indicates that in the early stage of the drawdown the deformation of the landslide mass is mainly caused by seepage and in the later stage mainly by consolidation.


Three Gorges Reservoir Deformation prediction of landslide Reservoir drawdown Saturated–unsaturated seepage Numerical simulation 



This study was carried out in the framework of the bilateral cooperation project CHN 08/020 between China University of Geosciences (Wuhan) and Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg (Germany). The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support by the International Bureau of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Thanks the Geological Disaster Prevention Prospecting and Design Institute of Hubei Province for providing the geological hazard protection report of Xiakou Town.

Supplementary material

12665_2010_536_MOESM1_ESM.doc (243 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 243 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jiwei Jiang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dominik Ehret
    • 2
  • Wei Xiang
    • 1
  • Joachim Rohn
    • 2
  • Ling Huang
    • 1
  • Shaojun Yan
    • 1
  • Renneng Bi
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of EngineeringChina University of GeosciencesWuhanChina
  2. 2.Department of Applied GeologyUniversity of Erlangen-NurembergErlangenGermany

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