Predisposing factors and the mechanisms of rainfall-induced slope movements in Ugwueme, South-East Nigeria

  • Ogbonnaya IgweEmail author
Original Paper


This research investigated the initiation and mobility of several landslides triggered by the 18–19 August 2008 rainfall in the Ugwueme area of Enugu State, Nigeria using a combination of field survey, satellite imagery and laboratory analyses. Among the landslides was a soil-slip slide that developed on a steep slope at the weathered sandstone-shale interface. While the mass movement (500 m in width) generated about 20,000 m3 which was displaced for about 50 m downslope, an adjacent, simultaneously-triggered slide of nearly equal width was subject to only a few meters displacement; these events provided valuable information on the conditions conducive to their occurrence and mobility. The weathered mass failed primarily due to the steep slopes located near fault planes and several slope faces hanging over the valley along joints, and the pore-water pressure buildup due to sustained, intense rainfall in the preceding days. A number of large scale fractures occurred around the landslides location. One of the fractures, an approximately N-S trending fault was observed to be closely associated with the failures. A major stream/river channel was observed to have terminated <2 km south of the landslide location. Whereas this stream may not have directly interfered with the failure site, a narrow tributary might have taken advantage of the fault plane to terminate at the point of failure. There was satisfactory agreement among the resulting maps, structural location data and field observations.


Lineaments Satellite imagery Soil slip Compressibility South-east Nigeria 



I am delighted that the International Consortium on Landslides (ICL) under its International Program on Landslides (IPL) classified the Department of Geology, University of Nigeria as a World Centre of Excellence (WCoE) on Landslide Risk Reduction. The classification facilitated the present research. I wish to acknowledge my post-graduate students, department staff and laboratory technicians for their contributions to the work.


  1. Agung MW, Sassa K, Fukuoka H, Wang G (2004) Evolution of shear-zone structure in undrained ring-shear tests. Landslides 1:101–112Google Scholar
  2. Ahrendt A, Zuquette LV (2003) Triggering factors of landslides in Campos do Jordão city, Brazil. Bull Eng Geol Environ 62:231–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alexander D, Formichi R (1993) Tectonic causes of landslides. Earth Surf Proc Land 18:311–338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. ASTM (1993) Standard classification of soils for engineering purposes. Test designation D 2487, v. 04.08Google Scholar
  5. Ayalew L (1999) The effect of seasonal rainfall on landslides in the highlands of Ethiopia. Bull Eng Geol Environ 58:9–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barlow J (2003) Detecting translational landslide scars using segmentation of Landsat ETM+ and DEM data in the northern Cascade Mountains, British Columbia. Can J Remote Sens 29:510–517CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Benkhelil J (1989) The origin and evolution of the cretaceous Benue Trough (Nigeria). J Afr Earth Sc 8:251–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Borga M, Fontana GD, Gregoretti C, Marchi L (2002) Assessment of shallow landsliding by using a physically based model of hillslope stability. Hydrol Process 16:2833–2851CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Casagrande A (1948) Classification and identification of soils. Trans ASCE 113:901–991Google Scholar
  10. Cevasco A, Pepe G, Brandolini P (2014) The influences of geological and land use settings on shallow landslides triggered by an intense rainfall event in a coastal terraced environment. Bull Eng Geol Environ 73:859–875CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Corominas J (2001) Landslides and climate. In: Bromhead E, Dixon N, Iben ML (eds) 8th International symposium on landslides, 4th edn. Balkema, Cardiff, pp 1–33Google Scholar
  12. Cruden DM, Hungr O (1986) The debris of the Frank Slide and theories of rockslide-avalanche mobility. Can J Earth Sci 23:425–432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cruden DM, Varnes DJ (1996) Landslide types and processes. In: Turner AT, Schuster RL (eds) Landslides—investigation and mitigation. Transportation research board special report no. 247. National Academy Press, Washington, pp 36–75Google Scholar
  14. Dai FC, Lee CF (2002) Landslide characteristics and slope instability modeling using GIS, Lantau Island, Hong Kong. Geomorphology 42:213–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dai FC, Lee CF, Wang SJ (1999) Analysis of rainstorm-induced slide-debris flows on natural terrain of Lantau Island, Hong Kong. Eng Geol 51:279–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fannin RJ, Eliadorani A, Wilkinson JMT (2005) Shear strength of cohessionless soils at low stress. Géotechnique 55:467–478CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fiorillo F, Guadagno F, Aquino S, De Blasio A (2001) The December 1999 Cervinara landslides: further debris flows in the pyroclastic deposits of Campania (southern Italy). Bull Eng Geol Environ 60:171–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fleming RW, Ellen SD, Algus MA (1989) Transformation of dilative and contractive landslide debris into debris flows—an example from Marin County, California. Eng Geol 27:201–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fortin J, Guéguen Y, Schubnel A (2007) Effects of pore collapse and grain crushing on ultrasonic velocities. J Geophys Res 112:34–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fukuoka H, Sassa K, Wang G, Sasaki R (2006) Observation of shear zone development in ring-shear apparatus with a transparent shear box. Landslides 3:239–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gostelow P (1991) Rainfall and landslides. In: Almeida-Teixeira M (ed) Prevention and control of landslides and other mass movements. CEC, Brussels, pp 139–161Google Scholar
  22. Hardin BO (1985) Crushing of soil particles. J Geotech Eng 111(10):1177–1192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Highland LM, Bobrowsky P (2008) The landslide handbook: A guide to understanding landslides. US Geological Survey, Circular 1325, 129p. US Geological Survey, RestonGoogle Scholar
  24. Hungr O, Evans SG, Bovis M, Hutchinson JN (2001) Review of the classification of landslides of the flow type. Environ Eng Geol 7:221–238Google Scholar
  25. Hyodo M, Hyde AFL, Aramaki N, Nakata Y (2002) Undrained monotonic and cyclic shear behavior of sands under low and high confining stresses. Soils Found 42:63–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Igwe O (2014) The compressibility and shear characteristics of soils associated with landslides in geologically different localities—case examples from Nigeria. Arab J Geosci. doi: 10.1007/s12517-014-1616-3 Google Scholar
  27. Igwe O, Fukuoka H (2014) The effect of water-saturation on the stability of problematic slopes at the Iva Valley area. Arab J Geosci, Southeast Nigeria. doi: 10.1007/s12517-014-1398-7 Google Scholar
  28. Igwe O, Sassa K, Wang FW (2007) The influence of grading on the shear strength of loose sands in stress-controlled ring shear tests. Landslides 4:43–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Igwe O, Fukuoka H, Sassa K (2012) The effect of relative density and confining stress on shear properties of sands with varying grading. Geotech Geol Eng 30:1207–1229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Igwe O, Mode W, Nnebedum O, Okonkwo I, Oha I (2013) The analysis of rainfall-induced slope failures at Iva Valley area of Enugu State. Environ Earth Sci, Nigeria. doi: 10.1007/s12665-013-2647-x Google Scholar
  31. Igwe O, Mode W, Nnebedum O, Okonkwo I, Oha I (2015) The mechanisms and characteristics of a complex rock-debris avalanche at the Nigeria–Cameroon border, West Africa. Geomorphology 234:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kogbe CA (1989) Palaeogeographic history of Nigeria from Albian times. In: Kogbe CA (ed) 1989. Elizabethan Publ.Co. Lagos, Geology of Nigeria, pp 257–275Google Scholar
  33. Koukis G, Sabatakakis N, Ferentinou M, Lainas S, Alexiadou X, Panagopoulos A (2009) Landslide phenomena related to major fault tectonics: rift zone of Corinth Gulf, Greece. Bull Eng Geol Environ 68:215–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kramer SL, Seed HB (1988) Initiation of soil liquefaction under static loading conditions. J Geotech Eng 114:412–430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lade PV, Yamamuro JA, Bopp PA (1996) Significant of particle crushing in granular materials. J Geotech Eng 122:309–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Loye A, Pedrazzini A, Theule JI, Jaboyedoff M, Metzger R (2012) Influence of bedrock structures on the spatial pattern of erosional landforms in small alpine catchments. Earth Surf Proc Land 37:1407–1423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Msilimba GG, Holmes PJ (2010) Landslides in the Rumphi district of Northern Malawi: characteristics and mechanisms of generation. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci 54:657–677Google Scholar
  38. Muwanga A, Schuman A, Biryabarema M (2001) Landslides in Uganda: documentation of natural hazards. Documenta Naturae 136:111–115Google Scholar
  39. Ngecu M, Mathu EM (1999) The El-Nino triggered landslides and their socio-economic impact on Kenya. Environ Geol 38:277–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Obi GC, Okogbue CO (2004) Sedimentary response to Tectonism in the Campanian-Maastrichian succession, Anambra Basin, Southeastern Nigeria. J Afr Earth Sci 38:99–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Oboh-Ikuenobe FE, Obi GC, Jamarillo CA (2005) Lithofacies, palynofacies and sequence stratigraphy of paleogene strata in Southeastern Nigeria. J Afr Earth Sci 41:79–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ojoh KA (1992) Southern part of the Benue trough (Nigeria): cretaceous stratigraphy, basin-analysis, palaeo-oceanography and geodynamic evolution in the equatorial domain of the south Atlantic. Niger Assoc Pet Explor Bull 7:131–152Google Scholar
  43. Okada Y, Sassa K, Fukuoka H (2000) Liquefaction and the steady state of weathered granitic sands obtained by undrained ring shear tests: a fundamental study of the mechanism liquidized landslides. J Nat Disaster Sci 22:75–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Okada Y, Sassa K, Fukuoka H (2004) Excess pore pressure and grain crushing of sands by means of undrained and naturally drained ring-shear tests. Eng Geol 75:325–343CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Okada Y, Kyoji Sassa, Fukuoka H (2005) Undrained shear behavior of sands subjected to large displacement and estimation of excess pore-pressure generation from drained ring shear tests. Can Geotech J 42:787–803CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Ramli MF, Yusof N, Yusoff MK, Juahir H, Shafri HZM (2010) Lineament mapping and its application in landslide hazard assessment: a review. Bull Eng Geol Environ 69:215–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sadrekarimi A, Olson SM (2009) A new ring shear device to measure the large displacement shearing behavior of sands. Geotech Test J 32:197–208Google Scholar
  48. Sadrekarimi A, Olson SM (2010) Shear band formation observed in ring shear tests on sandy soils. J Geotech Geoenviron Eng 136:366–375CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sassa, K. 2000. Mechanism of flows in granular soils. In: Proceedings of the International Conference on Geotechnical and Geological Engineering (GeoEng 2000), Melbourne, Australia, 19–24 November 2000. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, pp 1671–1702Google Scholar
  50. Sassa K, Wang G, Fukuoka H (2003) Performing undrained shear tests on saturated sands in a new intelligent-type of ring shear apparatus. Geotech Test J 26:257–265Google Scholar
  51. Sassa K, Wang G, Fukuoka H, Wang FW, Ochiai T, Sugiyama Sekiguchi T (2004) Landslide risk evaluation and hazard mapping for rapid and long-travel landslides in urban development areas. Landslides 1:221–235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Springman SM, Jommi C, Teysseire P (2003) Instabilities on moraine slopes induced by loss of suction: a case history. Géotechnique 53:3–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Thevanayagam S, Shenthan T, Mohan S, Liang J (2002) Undrained fragility of clean sands, silty sands and sandy silts. J Geotech Geoenviron Eng 128:849–859CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Tsai TL, Chen HF (2010) Effects of degree of saturation on shallow landslides triggered by rainfall. Environ Earth Sci 59:1285–1295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Tsai TL, Wang JK (2011) Examination of influences of rainfall patterns on shallow landslides due to dissipation of matric suction. Environ Earth Sci 63:65–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wang FW, Sassa K (2000) Relationship between grain crushing and excess pore pressure generation by sandy soils in ring-shear tests. J Nat Disaster Sci 22:87–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wang FW, Sassa K (2007) Initiation and traveling mechanisms of the May 2004 landslide-debris flow at Bettou-Dani of the Jinnosuke-Dani landslide Haku-san Mountain, Japan. Soils Found 47:141–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Wang FW, Sassa K, Fukuoka H (1998) Cyclic-loading ring-shear tests to study high-mobility of earthquake-induced-landslides. Environ For Sci 54:575–582Google Scholar
  59. Wang FW, Sassa K, Wang G (2002) Mechanism of a long-runout landslide triggered by the August 1998 heavy rainfall in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. Eng Geol 63:169–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Zhang M, Yin Y, Hu R, Wu S, Zhang Y (2011) Ring shear test for transform mechanism of slide-debris flow. Eng Geol 118:55–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geology, Faculty of Physical SciencesUniversity of NigeriaNsukkaNigeria

Personalised recommendations