The formation and breach of a short-lived landslide dam at Hsiaolin village, Taiwan - Part I: Post-event reconstruction of dam geometry

Jia Jyun Dong, Yun Shan Li, Chyh Yu Kuo, Rui Tang Sung, Ming Hsu Li, Chyi Tyi Lee, Chien Chih Chen, Wang Ru Lee

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In this paper, technologies from multiple disciplines are used to reconstruct the shape of the Hsiaolin landslide dam, a short-lived landslide dam (SLD), that was triggered by Typhoon Morakot. Here, the formation, failure mode and breaching process of this SLD are investigated. The results indicate that the overtopping time and the debris budget constrained the dam geometry. The inferred volume of the Hsiaolin landslide dam (15.4millionm3) is much smaller than the actual landslide volume (25.2millionm3) even considering the rock-mass dilation and debris entrainment. Meanwhile, a 46% error could be induced if an over-simplified equation (a function of the dam height, length and width) is used to calculate the dam volume. The saddle of the dam crest, which is where overtopping occurred, could be used as a reference to measure the dam height and length. Accordingly, the determined dam dimensions of height (44m), length (370m) and width (1500m) are suggested to be the representative geometrical indices that influenced the stability of the Hsiaolin landslide dam. The flow rate of the dammed river, another variable relevant to dam stability, was determined from a run-off simulation. It is suggested that, instead of the peak flow before the dam formation, the flow rate during the blockage period (2974m3/s) should be used as the training data for building a statistical model for stability predictions. Finally, the low hydraulic gradient at the toe of the dam's surface and the high safety factor of the dam slope indicate that the piping and slope instability were irrelevant to the failure of the Hsiaolin short-lived landslide dam. It is postulated that overtopping (about one hour after the blockage) dominated the failure process of this heavy-rainfall-induced landslide dam.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-59
Number of pages20
JournalEngineering Geology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 11 Nov 2011


  • Failure mechanism
  • Geomorphic characteristic
  • Heavy-rainfall-triggered
  • Landslide dam
  • Overtopping
  • Short-lived


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