Experimental study to identify premonitory factors of landslide dam failures

Fawu Wang, Zili Dai, Chukwueloka Austin Udechukwu Okeke, Yasuhiro Mitani, Hufeng Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Identifying premonitory factors before final failure for long-existing landslide dams is of high importance in disaster prevention and risk reduction. In this study, a series of large-scale (outdoor) experiments were designed and conducted to identify premonitory factors that may be used in failure prediction for actual landslide dams. Surface deformation, especially dam-crest settlement, dam seepage-water turbidity and self-potential across the dam crest were selected as the target parameters. Changes in these parameters showed apparent correlations between each other. Based on the monitoring data obtained and the observation performed during the tests, the deformation and failure sequence of the dam model can be separated into four time-sequential periods: 1) Emergence of seepage water and front wetting. In this period, the monitoring parameters did not show any obvious changes. However, wetting was observed in the downstream face. 2) Hyperconcentrated flow discharge. In this period, water flowed out of the drainage channel, and the vertical deformation of the dam body became obvious, while the turbidity of the seepage water increased. 3) Emergence and development of cracks on the dam crest. In this period, the dam-crest settlement also increased. 4) Sudden collapse and final failure. In this period, self-potential across the dam crest decreased rapidly, and the dam-crest settlement reached a peak value. Therefore, dam-crest settlement, seepage-water turbidity and self-potential changes can be regarded as premonitory factors of landslide dam failure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-134
Number of pages12
JournalEngineering Geology
Publication statusPublished - Jan 8 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology


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