, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 1231–1242 | Cite as

Mitigation planning based on the prediction of river blocking by a typical large-scale debris flow in the Wenchuan earthquake area

  • Jinfeng Liu
  • Yong You
  • Xiaoqing Chen
  • Xingzhang Chen
Original Paper


Due to scale amplification resulting from the blocking-bursting process associated with landslide dams in debris flow catchments, many of large-scale debris flows that occurred as a result of the Wenchuan earthquake blocked the main rivers and resulted in catastrophic dam-breaking floods. To decrease the damage caused by dam-breaking floods, mitigation works should be applied in debris flow gullies. Currently, few studies focus on how to determine the key parameters concerning the scale of debris flows (i.e., peak discharge and total volume) that need to be controlled for mitigation planning considering downstream objects affected by the flow. The Xiaojia debris flow is described and analyzed as a typical large-scale case from the Yingxiu area. A back-calculation method and numerical simulation were proposed for mitigation planning in Xiaojia gully based on predictions of river blocking. First, the maximum peak flood discharge that did not endanger the town of Yingxiu was calculated. Then, the permissible blockage from a debris flow was determined based on the back-calculation of a dam-breaking flood. Finally, the scale of the largest permissible debris flow was obtained for use in mitigation plans based on numerical simulations. The calculations showed that the peak discharge of a flood that would not endanger Yingxiu should be <1496.48 m3/s. Accordingly, based on the 1/3 and 1/2 breach modes, the permissible blocking height of a debris flow barrier dam should not exceed 43.09 and 31.64 m, respectively. The total volume and peak discharge of a single debris flow event should be controlled to not exceed 70.59 × 104 m3 and 784.59 m3/s for the 1/3 breach mode and 45.21 × 104 m3 and 551.77 m3/s for the 1/2 breach mode. Based on these determinations of the key debris flow parameters, the simulation results indicate that debris flow damage can be decreased to an acceptable level to ensure the safety of Yingxiu downstream by the implementation of two check dams in the downstream channel and a deposition works on the debris fan.


Debris flow Disaster characteristics Wenchuan earthquake River-blocking prediction Mitigation planning 



This research was financially supported by the Key Projects of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KZZD-EW-05-01-04), the National Science and Technology Support Program (2012BAC06B02), and the Applicative Fundamental Research Program of Sichuan Province (2012JY0104).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jinfeng Liu
    • 1
  • Yong You
    • 1
  • Xiaoqing Chen
    • 1
  • Xingzhang Chen
    • 2
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Mountain Hazards and Earth Surface Process/Institute of Mountain Hazards and EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina
  2. 2.School of Environment and ResourcesSouthwest University of Science and TechnologyMianyangChina

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