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Spatial characteristics of landslides triggered by the 2015 Mw 7.8 (Gorkha) and Mw 7.3 (Dolakha) earthquakes in Nepal

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High magnitude earthquakes trigger numerous landslides and their occurrences are mainly controlled by terrain parameters. We created an inventory of 15,551 landslides with a total area of 90.2 km2 triggered by the 2015 Mw 7.8 (Gorkha) and Mw 7.3 (Dolakha) earthquakes in Nepal, through interpretation of very high resolution satellite images (e.g. WorldView, Pleiades, Cartosat-1 and 2, Resourcesat-2). Our spatial analysis of landslide occurrences with ground acceleration, slope, lithology and surface defomation indicated ubiquitous control of steep slope on landslides with ground acceleration as the trigger. Spatial distribution of landslides shows increasing frequency away from the Gorkha earthquake epicentre up to 130 km towards east, dropping sharply thereafter, which is an abnormal phenomenon of coseismic landslides. Landslides are laterally concentrated in three zones which matches well with the seismic rupture evolution of Gorkha earthquake, as reported through teleseismic measurements.

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This paper is the outcome of the disaster support work carried out under the Decision Support Centre (DSC) activities of NRSC supervised by Dr. V. K. Dadhwal, Dr. P. G. Diwakar and Shri G. Srinivasa Rao. T.R.M. was the Project Manager of ICMSD for the 25 April 2015 Nepal earthquake and would like to thank ICMSD and its affiliated organisations for sharing satellite images in timely manner. We thank Dr. M. R. Dhital for sharing the geological map of Nepal and Dr. S Mukherjee for suggesting important edits to the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Tapas R. Martha.

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Martha, T.R., Roy, P., Mazumdar, R. et al. Spatial characteristics of landslides triggered by the 2015 Mw 7.8 (Gorkha) and Mw 7.3 (Dolakha) earthquakes in Nepal. Landslides 14, 697–704 (2017).

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