Preliminary assessments of debris flow hazard in relation to geological environment changes in mountainous regions, North Vietnam
Keywords:Debris flow, slope-flash flood, colluvium, prolluvium, flash flood
Debris flow, widely viewed by geo-scientists as a special combination of landslide and flash flood, causes devastating damages to people and environment in northern mountainous regions of Vietnam. Field observations in the areas damaged by debris flows in northern Vietnam identified types of soils and rocks that were more likely to cause debris flows. Unlike flash floods, almost debris flows occurred at the end of the rainy season when soils and rocks were water-oversaturated thus mechanically weak; this is when pore water pressure decreases, lowering the strength from the soil. Landslides causing debris flows are commonly current slides. The tip of a landslide is often confined within a stream that has a permanent or seasonal flow. Debris flows mainly occur in proluvium, colluvial deposits or tectonic breccia zones. However, not a debris flow initiated in a tectonic breccia zone has been recorded in the northern mountainous regions of Vietnam. Colluvial deposits have been intensively investigated by many researchers worldwide. These deposits are commonly formed in neo-tectonic active zones, weak bed rocks, particularly old metamorphic rocks such as sericite shale, terrigenous and Cenozoic or late Mesozoic volcanic sedimentary rocks that are distributed at steep slopes and/or highly differentiated reliefs. These features appear to be a prerequisite for the exogenous processes, including rolling stones, falling rocks, landslides and surface erosions to occur. To study the mechanical and physical properties of colluvial deposits, the most practical approach is conducting experiments with large-sized samples or on-site experiments. However, this approach is expensive and not always favorable. Applying the rock mechanical theory, it is possible to examine C, j values if values of geological characteristics of rock blocks are known. Thus, the present study attempts clarify the cause-feedback relationship between the change of geological environment and geological hazard in general, and debris flows, in particular, providing a basic scientific insight for studying and predicting debris flows.
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