Landslide dam failure and flood hydraulics. Part I: experimental investigation

Zhixian Cao, Zhiyuan Yue, Gareth Pender

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    90 Citations (Scopus)


    Landslide dam failure can trigger catastrophic flooding in the downstream. However, field observation of such flooding is rarely available, while laboratory experimental studies are sparse. The mechanism of landslide dam failure and the flood has so far remained insufficiently understood. Here, we present an experimental investigation of landslide dam failure and the flood. A total of 28 runs of experiments are carried out in a flume of 80 m × 1.2 m × 0.8 m, with differing inflow discharge, dam composition, dam geometry, and initial breach dimension. An array of twelve automatic water-level probes is deployed to measure the stage hydrographs along the flume, and the video recording of the dam failure processes facilitates an estimation of the widening of initial breach. Under the present experimental conditions with dams composed of homogeneous materials, landslide dam failure is primarily caused by erosion of overtopping flow, and lateral mass collapse is also considerable during the cause of breach widening. Cohesive clay may act to mitigate the seepage through the dam and thus its subsidence and appreciably modulate the dam failure process and the flood. However, the impacts of clay may be readily overwhelmed by a large inflow discharge and initial breach. Gravels in the dam may appreciably depress the rate of the dam failure process and thus modify the flood. The present work provides new experimental data set for testing mathematical models of the flood flow due to landslide dam failure. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1003-1019
    Number of pages17
    JournalNatural Hazards
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2011


    • Dam failure
    • Erosion
    • Flood
    • Flume experiment
    • Landslide dam
    • Mass collapse


    Dive into the research topics of 'Landslide dam failure and flood hydraulics. Part I: experimental investigation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this