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25-01-2019 | Original Paper | Issue 7/2019

Bulletin of Engineering Geology and the Environment 7/2019

The mechanisms of a loess landslide triggered by diversion-based irrigation: a case study of the South Jingyang Platform, China

Journal:
Bulletin of Engineering Geology and the Environment > Issue 7/2019
Authors:
Penghui Ma, Jianbing Peng, Qiyao Wang, Jianqi Zhuang, Fanyu Zhang
Important notes

Highlights

(1) The 2015 landslide slid four times during this event, with one flowslide and three rotational slides.
(2) The cracks in the landslide area penetrated the saturated zone from the ground surface and played a dominant role in the infiltration of surface irrigation water.
(3) Paleosol can act as a temporary aquifuge when infiltration recharge exceeds its natural infiltration rate.
(4) Saturated loess samples were highly liquefiable.
(5) The saturated sand layer of the terrace was highly liquefiable, leading to the thrusting of the sand layer onto the deposit surface.

Abstract

Continuous use of diversion-based irrigation has been associated with an increase in the frequency of loess landslides on the South Jingyang Platform, Shaanxi, China. A loess landslide event with a maximum sliding distance of 278 m occurred near the village of Miaodian on May 26, 2015. This landslide event was characterized by four individual landslides. Field investigations, geological exploration, numerical simulation, isotropically consolidated undrained (ICU) triaxial tests, and ring shear tests were conducted to identify its initiation and movement mechanisms. The ICU tests revealed that saturated loess samples were highly liquefiable. High pore water pressure was quickly produced and deviation stress increased the highest value even at low values of axial strain. Geological investigations revealed that cracks penetrated into the saturated zone from the ground surface, and simulation results revealed that these cracks played a dominant role in the infiltration of surface water and led to a rise in the groundwater table. When the infiltration recharge exceeds the holding capacity of the paleosol, the latter behaves as aquifuge under relatively undrained conditions. This process results in the accumulation of water at the bottom of the loess layer, thereby contributing to soil liquefaction and landslide initiation. The ring shear tests revealed that the saturated sand layer of the landslide substrates was subjected to easily inducible high pore water pressure under undrained conditions which led to the thrusting of the sand layer onto the deposit surface and explains the high speed and long runout distance of this landslide.

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