Distribution pattern of landslides triggered by the 2014 Ludian earthquake of China: Implications for regional threshold topography and the Seismogenic fault identification

Suhua Zhou, Guangqi Chen, Ligang Fang

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36 Citations (Scopus)


The 3 August 2014 Ludian earthquake with a moment magnitude scale (Mw) of 6.1 induced widespread landslides in the Ludian County and its vicinity. This paper presents a preliminary analysis of the distribution patterns and characteristics of these co-seismic landslides. In total, 1826 landslides with a total area of 19.12 km2 triggered by the 3 August 2014 Ludian earthquake were visually interpreted using high-resolution aerial photos and Landsat-8 images. The sizes of the landslides were, in general, much smaller than those triggered by the 2008Wenchuan earthquake. The main types of landslides were rock falls and shallow, disrupted landslides from steep slopes. These landslides were unevenly distributed within the study area and concentrated within an elliptical area with a 25-km NW-SE striking long axis and a 15-km NW-SE striking short axis. Three indexes including landslides number (LN), landslide area ratio (LAR), and landslide density (LD) were employed to analyze the relation between the landslide distribution and several factors, including lithology, elevation, slope, aspect, distance to epicenter and distance to the active fault. The results show that slopes consisting of deeply weathered and fractured sandstones and mudstones were the more susceptible to co-seismic landslides. The elevation range of high landslide susceptibility was between 900-1300 m and 1800-2000 m. There was a generally positive correlation between co-seismic landslides and slope angle, until a maximum for the slope class 40°-50°. The co-seismic landslides occurred preferably on Southeast (SE), South (S) and Southwest (SW) oriented slopes. Results also show that the landslide concentration tends to decrease with distance from the surface projection of the epicenter rather than the seismogenic fault, and the highest landslide concentration is located within a 5-6 km distance of the seismogenic fault. Regarding the epicenter, the largest landslide clusters were found on the SE, northeast by east (NEE) and nearlyWest (W) of the epicenter. In addition, we also suggest that statistical results of slope gradients of landslides might imply a threshold topography of the study area within a tectonically active background. By analogy with other events, the statistical results of landslides aspects also imply the seismogenic fault of the Ludian earthquake might have been the Northwest (NW)-Trending fault, which is consistent with other studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number46
JournalISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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