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The 6.8 magnitude Luding Earthquake in China on September 5th, 2022 caused landslides.


Google Earth imagery taken a few days after the 5 September 2022 Luding Earthquake, showing landslides triggered by the earthquake.

The author of The Landslide Blog is Dave Petley, a renowned expert in the field of landslide research and management.

Image of a landslide partially covered with a transparent sand-colored overlay and the words “The Landslide Blog,” centered, in white

A shallow earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 (Ms=6.8) struck Luding County in Sichuan Province, China on September 5, 2022. The affected area is characterized by steep mountainous terrain and the earthquake occurred at the end of the rainy season, making landslides inevitable. A recent publication in the journal Landslides by Ma et al. (2023) provides an initial overview of some of the landslides. The paper does not include a comprehensive inventory, as that is expected to be published at a later time, but instead reports on reconnaissance work carried out within 15 days.

The epicenter of the earthquake occurred at [102.08, 29.59]. The authors reference their own research and that of others to suggest that approximately 4,000 landslides were caused by the earthquake. The picture below displays a portion of the affected region near the epicenter. Though there is some Google Earth imagery of the area a few days after the earthquake, it may be hindered by clouds. However, it does provide an idea of the magnitude of the landslide impacts.

Google Earth imagery taken a few days after the 5 September 2022 Luding Earthquake, showing landslides triggered by the earthquake.

The Google Earth images captured a few days following the Luding Earthquake on September 5, 2022 depict landslides caused by the earthquake.

This picture is intriguing as it depicts several shallow rockslides that have been disrupted. It also shows a larger failure that originated from the ridgetop, which is a common occurrence in landslides caused by earthquakes. Additionally, the image captures the aftermath of a recent debris flow that has been channeled down a major tributary channel and formed a fan.

One notable aspect of this short paper is a study of the deaths caused by the Luding earthquake. According to Ma et al. (2023), there were 93 reported deaths and 25 missing individuals. Surprisingly, only 20% of the fatalities were due to collapsed buildings, while the remaining 80% were caused by landslides.

One interesting aspect of this study is that the authors mention two remote villages, Wandong and Xingfu, which were still isolated three weeks after the Luding Earthquake due to landslides. This highlights the fact that in mountainous regions, landslides can worsen the impact of natural disasters by impeding rescue efforts and impeding recovery. Additionally, Ma et al. (2023) state that there are significant loose materials scattered throughout the high slopes and valleys of Wangdong and Xingfu, which will pose a major challenge for recovery and reconstruction in the affected area.

The movement of debris caused by landslides triggered by earthquakes is a significant issue in this region. This prolongs the aftermath of the earthquake for several years, greatly affecting the nearby communities.

Reference

Ma, S., Lu, Y., Xia, C. et al. 2023 Brief report of landslides triggered by the 2022 Ms 6.8 Luding earthquake, Sichuan, China. Landslides. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10346-023-02156-x

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Text © 2023. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

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