Spatial distribution of landslides triggered from the 2007 Niigata Chuetsu–Oki Japan Earthquake

Engineering Geology
By: , and 



Understanding the spatial distribution of earthquake-induced landslides from specific earthquakes provides an opportunity to recognize what to expect from future events. The July 16, 2007 Mw 6.6 (MJMA 6.8) Niigata Chuetsu–Oki Japan earthquake triggered hundreds of landslides in the area surrounding the coastal city of Kashiwazaki and provides one such opportunity to evaluate the impacts of an offshore, magnitude 6 + earthquake on a steep coastal region. As part of a larger effort to document all forms of geotechnical damage from this earthquake, we performed landslide inventory mapping throughout the epicentral area and analyzed the resulting data for spatial, seismic-motion, and geologic correlations to describe the pattern of landsliding. Coupled with examination of a third-party, aerial-photo-based landslide inventory, our analyses reveal several areas of high landslide concentration that are not readily explained by either traditional epicentral and fault–plane-distance metrics or by recorded and inferred ground-motions. Whereas average landslide concentrations averaged less than 1 landslide per square kilometer (LS/km2), some areas reached up to 2 LS/km2 in the Nishiyama Hills to the northeast of Kashiwazaki and between 2 and 11 LS/km2 in coastal areas to the north and south of the city. Correlation with seismometer-based and monument overturning back-calculated ground motions suggests that a minimum peak ground acceleration (PGA) of approximately 0.2 g was necessary for landsliding throughout the region, but does not explain the subregional areas of high landslide concentration. However, analysis of topographic slope and the distribution of generally weak, dip-slope, geologic units does sufficiently explain why, on a sub-regional scale, high landslide concentrations occurred where they did. These include: (1) an inland region of steep, dip-slope, anticlinal sedimentary strata with associated fold belt compression and uplift of the anticline and (2) coastal areas with generally weaker, weathered outcrop lithology and steeper slopes resulting from active marine and terrestrial cliff processes. The results offer lessons for understanding the effects of earthquakes on both regional and subregional scales with regard to the spatial distribution of landsliding.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Spatial distribution of landslides triggered from the 2007 Niigata Chuetsu–Oki Japan Earthquake
Series title Engineering Geology
DOI 10.1016/j.enggeo.2011.12.010
Volume 127
Year Published 2012
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Geology and Geophysics Science Center
Description 13 p.
First page 14
Last page 26
Country Japan