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Interpretation of landslide distribution triggered by the 2005 Northern Pakistan earthquake using SPOT 5 imagery

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The 2005 northern Pakistan earthquake (magnitude 7.6) of 8 October 2005 occurred in the northwestern part of the Himalayas. We interpreted landslides triggered by the earthquake using black-and-white 2.5-m-resolution System Pour l’Observation de la Terre 5 (SPOT 5) stereo images. As a result, the counts of 2,424 landslides were identified in the study area of 55 by 51 km. About 79% or 1,925 of the landslides were small (less than 0.5 ha in area), whereas 207 of the landslides (about 9%) were large (1 ha and more in area). Judging from our field survey, most of the small landslides are shallow rock falls and slides. However, the resolution and whitish image in the photos prevented interpreting the movement type and geomorphologic features of the landslide sites in detail. It is known that this earthquake took place along preexisting active reverse faults. The landslide distribution was mapped and superimposed on the crustal deformation detected by the environmental satellite/synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data, active faults map, geological map, and shuttle radar topography mission data. The landslide distribution showed the following characteristics: (1) Most of the landslides occurred on the hanging-wall side of the Balakot–Garhi fault; (2) greater than one third of the landslides occurred within 1 km from the active fault; (3) the greatest number of landslides (1,147 counts), landslide density (3.2 counts/km2), and landslide area ratio (2.3 ha/km2) was found within Miocene sandstone and siltstone, Precambrian schist and quartzite, and Eocene and Paleocene limestone and shale, respectively; (4) there was a slight trend that large landslides occurred on vertically convex slopes rather than on concave slopes; furthermore, large landslides occurred on steeper (30° and more) slopes than on gentler slopes; (5) many large landslides occurred on slopes facing S and SW directions, which is consistent with SAR-detected horizontal dominant direction of crustal deformation on the hanging wall.

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Sato, H.P., Hasegawa, H., Fujiwara, S. et al. Interpretation of landslide distribution triggered by the 2005 Northern Pakistan earthquake using SPOT 5 imagery. Landslides 4, 113–122 (2007).

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