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Distribution and characteristics of large landslides in a fault zone: A case study of the NE Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

journal contribution
posted on 16.02.2021, 11:07 by Tianjun Qi, Xingmin Meng, Feng Qin, Yi Zhang, Yan Zhao, Wei Shi, Guan Chen, Yi Zhang, Yajun Li, Dongxia Yue, Xiaojun Su, Fuyun Guo, Runqiang Zeng, Tom Dijkstra
© 2021 Elsevier B.V. The NW-SE-striking fault zone in the Bailong River Basin in the northeastern margin of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau have the most densely distributed, large complex landslides in China. However, the failure of large complex landslides along the fault zone and the causes of their complex geomorphic characteristics are unclear. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between the fault zone and the spatial distribution, direction of movement, and geomorphic characteristics of large landslides. We inventoried 29 large landslides in the middle reaches of the Bailong River and described their characteristics. Statistical analysis revealed differences in the spatial relationship between the faults and landslides of different scales. Almost all of the landslide bodies with an area > 1 km2 are distributed on the faults; in addition, the strike of the faults was found to constrain the direction of movement of the landslides to the WNW-ESE direction. Statistical results show that the cross sections of landslides in the study area are asymmetric arc, corresponding to which there are significant differences in the geomorphological characteristics of the north and south sides of landslides. The geometric characteristics, physical properties (i.e., material weakness) of the fault zone and rapid uplift of the hanging wall were responsible for the asymmetric shape of landslide cross sections and the geomorphic difference. We present a conceptual model based on the relationship between the fault zone and landslides, which facilitates an improved understanding of the relationship between the fault zone and landslide evolution.


National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant No. 2017YFC1501005)

Science and Technology Major Project of Gansu Province (Grant No. 19ZD2FA002)

Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (lzujbky-2020-sp03)

International S&T Cooperation Projects of Gansu Province (No. 2018- 0204-GJC-0043)

Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (lzujbky-2018-46)



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

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This paper was accepted for publication in the journal Geomorphology and the definitive published version is available at

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Dr Tom Dijkstra. Deposit date: 15 February 2021

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