Skip to main content

The Niushou landslide in Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province of China: a slow-moving landslide triggered by rainfall


The Niushou landslide is a slow-moving landslide in the Niushou Mountain cultural tourism area, Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province of China. In June 2015, a tension crack appeared on the south side of Niushou Mountain due to the continuous rainfall, which brought great potential safety risk to the scenic area and the construction of the Alila Hotel. From July 2015 to March 2016, emergency rescue works were used to reinforce the south slope of Niushou Mountain. On June 11, 2016, the Niushou landslide occurred on the south side of Niushou Mountain, caused by the heavy rainfall as a result of the 2015–2016 EI Nino event. The movement of the Niushou landslide caused cracks in the land surface, the buildings of Alila Hotel, and reinforced facilities. Field investigations, drilling holes, geophysical prospecting, laboratory tests, groundwater level monitoring, and surface displacement monitoring were carried out to determine the geological features, deformation characteristics, and failure mechanism. Based on analysis of the monitoring data, the main reason for landslide occurrence was the rise of groundwater level, which increased the uplift pressure offered by confined water and decreased the strength in strongly weathered tuff layer, leading to the sliding surface. The construction land of Alila Hotel has been abandoned until now (May 5, 2020) because of the Niushou landslide. The case discussed how the level of groundwater changes would influence landslide deformation and also provided suggestions for the prevention measures of such landslide.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Fig. 13
Fig. 14
Fig. 15


  1. Bayer B, Simoni A, Mulas M, Corsini A, Schmidt D (2018) Deformation responses of slow moving landslides to seasonal rainfall in the northern Apennines, measured by InSAR. Geomorphology 308:293–306.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Bievre G, Joseph A, Bertrand C (2018) Preferential water infiltration path in a slow-moving clayey earthslide evidenced by cross-correlation of hydrometeorological time series (Charlaix landslide, French Western Alps). Geofluids. 2018:1–20.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Cohen-Waeber J, Burgmann R, Chaussard E, Giannico C, Ferretti A (2018) Spatiotemporal patterns of precipitation-modulated landslide deformation from independent component analysis of InSAR time series. Geophys Res Lett 45(4):1878–1887.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Dang K, Sassa K, Konagai K, Karunawardena A, Bandara RMS, Hirota K et al (2019) Recent rainfall-induced rapid and long-traveling landslide on 17 May 2016 in Aranayaka, Kagelle District, Sri Lanka. Landslides 16(1):155–164.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Fourie AB (1998) Predicting rainfall-induced slope instability. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers-Geotechnical Engineering 131(2):115–118.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Fu J, Wang YK (2016) Analysis of water and rain information on “July2016” torrential rain in Nanjing. Jiangsu Water Resources 2016(11):39–41. (in Chinese)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Handwerger AL, Fielding EJ, Huang M-H, Bennett GL, Liang C, Schulz WH (2019) Widespread initiation, reactivation, and acceleration of landslides in the northern California coast ranges due to extreme rainfall. Journal of Geophysical Research-Earth Surface 124(7):1782–1797.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Hendry MT, Macciotta R, Martin CD, Reich B (2015) Effect of Thompson River elevation on velocity and instability of Ripley Slide. Can Geotech J 52(3):257–267.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Hu X, Burgmann R, Lu Z, Handwerger AL, Wang T, Miao R (2019) Mobility, thickness, and hydraulic diffusivity of the slow-moving Monroe landslide in California revealed by L-band satellite radar interferometry. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth 124(7):7504–7518.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Huang H, Yi W, Lu S, Yi Q, Zhang G (2016) Use of monitoring data to interpret active landslide movements and hydrological triggers in Three Gorges Reservoir. J Perform Constr Facil 30(1).

  11. Huang D, Gu DM, Song YX, Cen DF, Zeng B (2018) Towards a complete understanding of the triggering mechanism of a large reactivated landslide in the Three Gorges Reservoir. Eng Geol 238:36–51.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Shi X, Liao M, Li M, Zhang L, Cunningham C (2016) Wide-area landslide deformation mapping with multi-path ALOS PALSAR data stacks: a case study of Three Gorges area, China. Remote Sens 8(2).

  13. Wu YM, Yang HW (2016) Analysis and thoughts of storm and flood in 2016 in Nanjing. Jiangsu Water Resources 2016(12):69–72. (in Chinese)

  14. Zerathe S, Lacroix P, Jongmans D, Marino J, Taipe E, Wathelet M, Pari W, Smoll LF, Norabuena E, Guillier B, Tatard L (2016) Morphology, structure and kinematics of a rainfall controlled slow-moving Andean landslide, Peru. Earth Surf Process Landf 41(11):1477–1493.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


The authors express their sincere gratitude to Peng Ge (3rd Geological Brigade of Jiangsu Geology and Mineral Exploration Bureau, Jiangsu Province, China) for his kind assistance in drawing Figs. 5, 8, and 13. The authors are also grateful to anonymous referees and the editor of this paper, whose generous comments make this paper polished.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Faming Zhang.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Li, Z., Zhang, F., Gu, W. et al. The Niushou landslide in Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province of China: a slow-moving landslide triggered by rainfall. Landslides 17, 2603–2617 (2020).

Download citation


  • Slow-moving landslide
  • Rainfall
  • Groundwater level change
  • Mechanism
  • Prevention measures