Understanding the triggering mechanism and possible kinematic evolution of a reactivated landslide in the Three Gorges Reservoir

Dong Ming Gu, Da Huang, Wei Dong Yang, Ji Liang Zhu, Guo Yang Fu

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96 Citations (Scopus)


More than 5000 landslides or potential landslides have been induced in the Three Gorges Reservoir (TGR) region since the impoundment in 2003, which have caused great damage and remain a huge threat to the dam and people living in the reservoir area. Understanding the deformation characteristics and failure mechanism of the landslides can be helpful in stability evaluation and landslide prediction. The primary aim of this study is to research the characteristics of the landslide motion and its relationships with environmental triggers, taking the Quchi landslide, a large, slow-moving, reactivated landslide in the TGR region, as an example. The instability clearly showed visible signs of movements since 2002, and after that, the slope has been experiencing persistent deformation. By combining 4 years of meteorological, hydrological data with displacement measurements from open fractures, deep boreholes, and surface points, as well as in situ observations, this paper reports the geological and geotechnical investigations performed to define the movement. The deformation is believed to be governed by reservoir water levels, while the precipitation has a minor effect. Seasonally, the slope movement has a very distinctive pattern with large deformation starting abruptly right after reservoir drawdown in June and lasting into late summer (September). Then there is a rapid transition to constant deformation (almost no displacement) as the reservoir level rises. The slope displacements appear to gradually increase every year, which suggests very high possibility of the large and overall failure of the slide. Both monitoring results and geomorphological observations have highlighted that the two active slide masses Q1 and Q2 would probably collapse in different kinematic evolution modes, i.e., the multistage failure and whole sliding motion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2073-2087
Number of pages15
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Filling–drawdown
  • Kinematic evolution
  • Monitoring system
  • Reactivated landslide
  • Three Gorges Reservoir

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