A Role of Low-angle Thrust Fault for the Occurrence of rain-induced Rockslides in an Accretionary Complex

Thursday, 17 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Noriyuki Arai and Masahiro Chigira, Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
Recently, extreme weather related to global warming occurs frequently all over the world; there have been many record-setting rainfall events. Accordingly, potential of rain-induced rockslides increases. Examples of recent rain-induced rock avalanches with tens or more than a hundred of fatalities are a rockslide in Shiaolin village, Taiwan by 2009 Typhoon Morakot, and rockslides induced by 2011 typhoon Talas in Japan. However, the method to predict potential sites of rockslides is not established. Geological causes of rockslides are site specific and they must be clarified for each case.

2011 Typhoon Talas induced more than 50 rockslides in the outer belt of the Southwest Japan, where is underlain by Cretaceous - lower Miocene accretionary complexes. We performed thorough geological mapping in the Akatani area, where two huge rockslides occurred with volumes of 2 million and 8 million m3 respectively.

As a result, we found that these two rockslides had their sliding surfaces along a low-angle-thrust with a dip of 29°~40° extending more than 5 km, which fault we name Kawarabi-thrust. This thrust has a fracture zone of 6.0 m in the maximum width, composed of clayey fault breccia with a few layers of black gouges. These fault materials are very weak and impermeable, so the fracture zone is expected to prevent the groundwater filtration and build up the pore pressure. This thrust had been exposed along the riversides at the foot of the two rockslides, which suggests that the slopes on the thrust had been destabilized by the undercutting of long-term river incision. The destabilization induced gravitational slope deformation with small scarps before the catastrophic failure. Our finding suggests that locating a large-scale low-angle-thrust is essentially important to predict potential sites of catastrophic rockslides as well as interpreting the internal structure of gravitationally deformed slopes.