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Sedimentary deformation structures in the Nyixoi Chongco rock avalanche: implications on rock avalanche transport mechanisms


To learn the transport kinematics of rock avalanches, an outcrop study of the Nyixoi Chongco rock avalanche in the Yadong-Gulu Rift of the south Tibetan Plateau, China, is presented here. Sedimentological analysis associated with the outcrops allows important considerations of rock avalanche transport mechanisms. From the outcrops, a series of plastic-brittle deformations in the substrate, including diapiric structures, convoluted laminations, faults, and basal décollements, were observed, indicating the occurrence of a bulldozing effect between the avalanche mass and substrate. In addition, jigsaw structures, inner shear zones, and aligned clasts were found in the avalanche deposit, indicating the occurrence of a shear-dominated movement with differential internal stresses and limited disturbances. Therefore, this paper proposes that a simple shear process dominated the transport of the Nyixoi Chongco rock avalanche and contributed to the generation of these sedimentary structures. A lack of liquefied sandy structures in the outcrops indicates that liquefaction was not a key factor causing the hypermobility of the rock avalanche.

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This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China [grant number 2017YFC1501000]; the National Natural Science Foundation of China [grant numbers 41530639, 41502289, 41761144080, 41877226, 41877237]; and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities [grant number 2682016CX088]. We would like to thank Editage for English language editing. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests. The data presented in this paper are available on request from the corresponding author.

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Correspondence to Yu-Feng Wang or Qian-Gong Cheng.

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Wang, YF., Cheng, QG., Shi, AW. et al. Sedimentary deformation structures in the Nyixoi Chongco rock avalanche: implications on rock avalanche transport mechanisms. Landslides 16, 523–532 (2019).

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  • Nyixoi Chongco rock avalanche
  • Internal sedimentological structures
  • Transport forms
  • Avalanche kinematics