Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 699–710 | Cite as

Debris flow formation process and critical hydrodynamic conditions in the meizoseismal area of the Wenchuan earthquake

  • Jun Wang
  • Yan Yu
  • Hua-li PanEmail author
  • Cheng Qiao
  • Guo-qiang Ou


The Wenchuan earthquake generated strong surface disturbances and triggered a large number of loose deposits, resulting in the disaster-prone environment with special watershed hydrological characteristics. This paper was to propose a debris flow formation process and explore the permeability characteristics and critical hydrodynamic conditions of the loose deposits triggered by the earthquake. The Guo Juanyan gully (31°05′27″ N to 31°05′46″ N, 103°36′58″ E to 103°37′09″ E) in Du Jiangyan City, located in the meizoseismal areas of the Wenchuan earthquake, was chosen as the study area and the disaster-prone environment was analyzed. The formation process of the debris flow was first proposed using a stability analysis, and then, the permeability characteristics of loose deposits were determined via in situ permeability experiments. Finally, the critical 1 h rainfall was simulated through a distributed hydrological model and verified by field observations. The formation process of debris flow could be divided into three stages based on the relationship between the hydrodynamic force and loose deposit resistance. The critical 1 h rainfall amounts under three antecedent moisture conditions (I-dry, II-normal and Ill-wet) were 52 mm/h, 43 mm/h and 34 mm/h, respectively. This study proposed a debris flow formation process in the meizoseismal areas of the Wenchuan earthquake based on the stability analysis and defined the rainfall threshold for debris flow early warning at the local level, which is significant for debris flow mitigation and risk management.


Wenchuan Earthquake Debris flow Disaster-prone environment Permeability characteristics Hydrodynamic condition 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jun Wang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Yan Yu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Hua-li Pan
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Cheng Qiao
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Guo-qiang Ou
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Mountain Hazards and Earth Surface ProcessChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina
  2. 2.Institute of Mountain Hazards and EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina
  3. 3.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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