Co-seismic surface rupture of Papatea fault and reactivation mechanism of the Clarence landslide during the 2016 Mw7.8 Kaikoura earthquake, New Zealand

  • Peng Guo
  • Zhu-jun Han
  • Hong-liu Ran
  • Jia-hong Luo
  • Guo Wu
  • Ren-mao YuanEmail author
Original Paper


Large earthquake-triggered landslides near a seismogenic fault are usually closely linked to fault slipping. Therefore, it is important to research the relationship between the landslide movement and the deformation pattern of faults to better understand the location and influencing factors related to the large landslides. A large landslide, on the right bank of the Clarence River, New Zealand, was reactivated during the 2016 Mw 7.8 Kaikoura earthquake. The landslide is located in close proximity to the Papatea Fault which ruptured during the earthquake. The special tectonic location of this landslide provided favorable conditions to research the failure mechanism of earthquake-triggered landslides. Field investigation and remote-sensing images revealed that the co-seismic surface rupture zone of the Papatea Fault is relatively complicated and characterized by a wide deformation zone with a width of ~80–170 m. The northern section showed as left-lateral strike-slip and thrust-slip, with a vertical displacement of up to 4–6 m. However, it exhibited thrust motion in the Clarence landslide area. The Clarence landslide was a reactivation of a pre-existing landslide. The thrust faulting of the Papatea Fault produced a wide deformation and fractured zone near the top of the landslide mass, and resulted in over-steepened topography in the landslide area. It should be noted that long-team seismic shaking, especially the main frequency of the seismic acceleration and rapid co-seismic vertical slip of the fault, played the principal role in further accelerating topographic instability during the earthquake. The landslide body thus started to slide along a pre-existing sliding surface under these actions. Our results indicate that the deformation pattern of the seismogenic fault could also play an important role in the occurrence of earthquake-triggered landslides, in addition to geological and geomorphological conditions and local seismic acceleration.


Clarence landslide Co-seismic surface rupture Reactivation mechanism 2016 Mw 7.8 Kaikoura earthquake New Zealand 



The authors would like to express sincere appreciation to the reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions, which were helpful for improving the MS. This work was financially supported by the key project of the Basic Science Fund of the Institute of Geology, China Earthquake Administration (IGCEA-1604), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41372219). We would also like to express our deep appreciation to Nicola Litchfield, Robert M Langridge, Russ J Van Dissen and Pilar Villamor from GNS Science, Lower Hutt, New Zealand, for providing detailed geological material and extensive exchanges.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peng Guo
    • 1
  • Zhu-jun Han
    • 1
  • Hong-liu Ran
    • 1
  • Jia-hong Luo
    • 1
  • Guo Wu
    • 1
  • Ren-mao Yuan
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Active Tectonics and Volcano, Institute of GeologyChina Earthquake AdministrationBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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