Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 14, Issue 9, pp 1712–1727 | Cite as

Debris flow susceptibility analysis based on the combined impacts of antecedent earthquakes and droughts: a case study for cascade hydropower stations in the upper Yangtze River, China

  • Gui-sheng Hu
  • Ning-sheng Chen
  • Javed Iqbal Tanoli
  • Mei Liu
  • Rong-Kun Liu
  • Kun-Ting Chen


The upper Yangtze River region is one of the most frequent debris flow areas in China. The study area contains a cascade of six large hydropower stations located along the river with total capacity of more than 70 million kilowatts. The purpose of the study was to determine potential and dynamic differences in debris flow susceptibility and intensity with regard to seasonal monsoon events. We analyzed this region’s debris flow history by examining the effective peak acceleration of antecedent earthquakes, the impacts of antecedent droughts, the combined effects of earthquakes and droughts, with regard to topography, precipitation, and loose solid material conditions. Based on these factors, we developed a debris flow susceptibility map. Results indicate that the entire debris flow susceptibility area is 167,500 km2, of which 26,800 km2 falls within the high susceptibility area, with 60,900 km2 in medium and 79,800 km2 are in low susceptibility areas. Three of the six large hydropower stations are located within the areas with high risk of debris flows. The synthetic zonation map of debris flow susceptibility for the study area corresponds with both the investigation data and actual distribution of debris flows. The results of debris flow susceptibility provide base-line data for mitigating, assessing, controlling and monitoring of debris flows hazards.


Hydropower stations Debris flow susceptibility Earthquake Drought Geological Information System(GIS) Upper Yangtze River 


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We appreciated comments by anonymous reviewers on an earlier version of the manuscript. This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41661134012 and 41501012) and the Taiwan Youth Visiting Scholar Fellowship of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. 2015TW2ZB0001).


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Lab of Mountain Hazards and Surface Processes, Institute of Mountain Hazards and EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina
  2. 2.Department of Earth SciencesCOMSATS Institute of Information TechnologyAbbottabadPakistan
  3. 3.School of Environment and Natural ResourcesThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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