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A new depth-averaged model for flow-like landslides over complex terrains with curvatures and steep slopes

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Xilin Xia, Professor Qiuhua Liang



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Flow-like landslides are one of the most catastrophic types of natural hazards due to their high velocity and long travel distance. They travel like fluid after initiation and mainly fall into the ‘flow’ movement type in the updated Varnes classification (Hungr et al., 2014). In recent years, depth-averaged models have been widely reported to predict the velocity and run-out distance of flow-like landslides. However, most of the existing depth-averaged models present different shortcomings for application to real-world simulations. This paper presents a novel depth-averaged model featured with a set of new governing equations derived in a mathematically rigorous way based on the shallow flow assumption and Mohr-Coulomb rheology. Particularly, the new mathematical formulation takes into account the effects of vertical acceleration and curvature effects caused by complex terrain topographies. The model is derived on a global Cartesian coordinate system so that it is easy to apply in real-world applications. A Godunov-type finite volume method is implemented to numerically solve these new governing equations, together with a novel scheme proposed to discretise the friction source terms. The hydrostatic reconstruction approach is implemented and improved in the context of the new governing equations, providing well-balanced and non-negative numerical solutions for mass flows over complex domain topographies. The model is validated against several test cases, including a field-scale flow-like landslide. Satisfactory results are obtained, demonstrating the model's improved simulation capability and potential for wider applications.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Xia X, Liang Q

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Engineering Geology

Year: 2018

Volume: 234

Pages: 174–191

Online publication date: 31/01/2018

Acceptance date: 14/01/2018

Date deposited: 08/02/2018

ISSN (print): 0013-7952

ISSN (electronic): 1872-6917

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.enggeo.2018.01.011


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Funder referenceFunder name
NE/K008781/1Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)