, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 208–216 | Cite as

Human-planted alder trees as a protection against debris flows (a dendrochronological study from the Moxi Basin, Southwestern China)

  • Ireneusz Malik
  • Yongbo Tie
  • Piotr Owczarek
  • Małgorzata Wistuba
  • Wojciech Pilorz
  • Beata Woskowicz-Ślęzak


Large debris flows have destroyed the infrastructure and caused the death of people living in the Moxi Basin (Sichuan Province, Southwestern China). Inhabitants of the Moxi Basin live on the flat surfaces of debris-flow fans, which are also attractive for farming. During the monsoon season debris flows are being formed above the fans. Debris flows can destroy the houses of any people living within the fan surfaces. In order to prevent the adverse effects of flows, people plant alder trees (Alnus nepalensis) at the mouths of debris flow gullies running above debris flow fans. Alders are able to capture the debris transported during flow events. Trees are well adapted to surviving in conditions of environmental stress connected with abrupt transport and deposition of sediment from debris flows. Numerous wounds, tilting and bending of alder trees caused by debris flows only very rarely cause the death of trees. By dating scars and dating the time of alder tilting (through the analysis of annual rings), we have determined the frequency of debris flows occurring at the mouth of the Daozhao valley. In 1980–2012 within the studied debris-flow fan and the Daozhao gully, 2 large debris flow events occurred (1996, 2005) and some smaller events were probably recorded every 2–3 years.


debris flow dendrochronology tree wound dating eccentric growth of trees dating South-Western China 


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Copyright information

© Versita Warsaw and Springer-Verlag Wien 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ireneusz Malik
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yongbo Tie
    • 2
  • Piotr Owczarek
    • 2
    • 3
  • Małgorzata Wistuba
    • 1
  • Wojciech Pilorz
    • 1
  • Beata Woskowicz-Ślęzak
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Reconstructing Environmental Change, Faculty of Earth SciencesUniversity of SilesiaSosnowiecPoland
  2. 2.Chengdu Centre of China Geological Survey, State Key Laboratory of Geohazard Prevention and Geoenvironment ProtectionChengdu University of TechnologyChengduChina
  3. 3.Institute of Geography and Regional DevelopmentUniversity of WrocławWrocławPoland

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