The 1786 earthquake-triggered landslide dam and subsequent dam-break flood on the Dadu River, southwestern China
Chinese historic documents recorded that on June 1, 1786, a strong M=7.75 earthquake occurred in the Kangding-Luding area, Sichuan, southwestern China, resulting in a large landslide that fell into the Dadu River. As a result, a landslide dam blocked the river. Ten days later, the sudden breaching of the dam resulted in catastrophic downstream flooding. Historic records document over 100,000 deaths by the flood. This may be the most disastrous event ever caused by landslide dam failures in the world. Although a lot of work has been carried out to determine the location, magnitude and intensity of the 1786 earthquake, relatively little is known about the occurrence and nature of the landslide dam. In this paper, the dam was reconstructed using historic documents and geomorphic evidence. It was found that the landslide dam was about 70 m high, and it created a lake with a water volume of about 50×10 6 m 3 and an area of about 1.7 km 2. The landslide dam breached suddenly due to a major aftershock on June 10, 1786. The peak discharge at the dam breach was estimated using regression equations and a physically based predictive equation. The possibility of a future failure of the landslide seems high, particularly due to inherent seismic risk, and detailed geotechnical investigations are strongly recommended for evaluating the current stability of the landslide.