Investigation of multi-annual groundwater response to rainfall in a deep-seated bedrock landslide: the case of the Kualiangzi landslide, China

Han Xiang Liu, Qiang Xu, Tong Qiu, Jiang Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The hydrological response of groundwater to rainfall plays a key role in the initiation of deep-seated bedrock landslides; however, the mechanisms require further investigation due to the complexity of groundwater movement in fissured bedrock. In this study, an active translational landslide along nearly horizontal rock strata was investigated. The hydrological response of groundwater to rainfall was analyzed, using the data from a four-year real-time field monitoring program from June 2013 to December 2016. The monitoring system was installed along a longitudinal section of the landslide with severe deformation and consisted of two rainfall gauges, nine piezometers, three water-level gauges, and two GPS data loggers. Much research effort has been directed to exploring the relationship between rainfall and groundwater response. It is found that both the pore-water pressure (PWP) and groundwater level (GWL) responses were significantly influenced by the rainfall pattern and the hydrological properties of the underlying aquifer. The rapid rise and fall of PWP and GWL were observed in the rainy season of 2013 with high-frequency, long-duration, and high-intensity rainfall patterns, especially in the lower section of the landslide dominated by the porous aquifer system. In contrast, a slower and prolonged response of PWP and GWL to rainfall was observed in most monitoring boreholes in 2014 and 2015 with two rainstorms of short duration and high intensity. In the lower section of the landslide, the peak GWL exhibited a stronger correlation with the cumulative rainfall than the daily rainfall in a single rainfall event whereas the peak groundwater level fluctuation (GWLF) exhibited a strong correlation with API with a half-life of 7 days. In the middle section of the landslide, however, relatively lower correlation between rainfall and groundwater response was observed. Three types of groundwater flow were identified based on the recession coefficients of different segments of water-level hydrographs in the landslide area, corresponding to the quick flow through highly permeable gravely soil and well-developed vertical joints in the bedrock, the slow and diffuse flow through the relatively less-permeable bedrock, and the transition between them in the aquifer system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2749-2775
Number of pages27
JournalNatural Hazards
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)

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