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Application and evaluation of a rapid response earthquake-triggered landslide model to the 25 April 2015 Mw 7.8 Gorkha earthquake, Nepal

September 1, 2017

The 25 April 2015 Mw 7.8 Gorkha earthquake produced strong ground motions across an approximately 250 km by 100 km swath in central Nepal. To assist disaster response activities, we modified an existing earthquake-triggered landslide model based on a Newmark sliding block analysis to estimate the extent and intensity of landsliding and landslide dam hazard. Landslide hazard maps were produced using Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) digital topography, peak ground acceleration (PGA) information from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) ShakeMap program, and assumptions about the regional rock strength based on end-member values from previous studies. The instrumental record of seismicity in Nepal is poor, so PGA estimates were based on empirical Ground Motion Prediction Equations (GMPEs) constrained by teleseismic data and felt reports. We demonstrate a non-linear dependence of modeled landsliding on aggregate rock strength, where the number of landslides decreases exponentially with increasing rock strength. Model estimates are less sensitive to PGA at steep slopes (> 60°) compared to moderate slopes (30–60°). We compare forward model results to an inventory of landslides triggered by the Gorkha earthquake. We show that moderate rock strength inputs over estimate landsliding in regions beyond the main slip patch, which may in part be related to poorly constrained PGA estimates for this event at far distances from the source area. Directly above the main slip patch, however, the moderate strength model accurately estimates the total number of landslides within the resolution of the model (landslides ≥ 0.0162 km2; observed n = 2214, modeled n = 2987), but the pattern of landsliding differs from observations. This discrepancy is likely due to the unaccounted for effects of variable material strength and local topographic amplification of strong ground motion, as well as other simplifying assumptions about source characteristics and their relationship to landsliding.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2017
Title Application and evaluation of a rapid response earthquake-triggered landslide model to the 25 April 2015 Mw 7.8 Gorkha earthquake, Nepal
DOI 10.1016/j.tecto.2016.10.031
Authors Sean F. Gallen, Marin K. Clark, Jonathan W. Godt, Kevin Roback, Nathan A Niemi
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Tectonophysics
Series Number
Index ID 70195972
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Office of the AD Hazards

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