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Activity characteristics and enlightenment of the debris flow triggered by the rainstorm on 20 August 2019 in Wenchuan County, China

Abstract

Debris flow activity increased after the Wenchuan earthquake, and many debris flows continue to occur. Recently, a catastrophic debris flow event was triggered by strong rainfall on 20 August 2019 in Wenchuan County, China. The main purposes of this article are to analyse the activity characteristics of this disaster and further to analyse the long-term activity of debris flow in Wenchuan County based on the analysis results of this disaster. According to a field survey and remote sensing image interpretation, this strong rainfall triggered 15 debris flows that occurred simultaneously in the large watershed in northern Wenchuan County, and they were characterised by strong channel erosion and a disaster chain effect. The activity and sediment supply capacity of landslides have decreased significantly, and the landslides that provided materials for this debris flow event are mainly distributed on both banks of tributaries. The amounts of triggering rainfall and antecedent accumulated rainfall for this debris flow event were 13.7 mm and 47.1 mm, respectively. In addition, the channel runoff formed by strong short-duration rainfall eroded the channel deposits, and temporary check dams failed due to slope failures; these are the main causes for debris flows in the next period. Analyses of the debris flow volume versus watershed area and the maximum erosion modulus prove that the debris flow activity in Wenchuan County is decreasing with time, but more than 5~10 years will be required to recover to the pre-earthquake level.

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Funding

This research was financially supported by the National key research and development programme of China (Grant No. 2017YFC1501004) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41672299).

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Correspondence to Chuan Tang.

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Xiong, J., Tang, C., Chen, M. et al. Activity characteristics and enlightenment of the debris flow triggered by the rainstorm on 20 August 2019 in Wenchuan County, China. Bull Eng Geol Environ 80, 873–888 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10064-020-01981-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10064-020-01981-x

Keywords

  • Wenchuan earthquake
  • Debris flow
  • Debris flow activity
  • Sediment supply
  • Strong rainfall