MSU Geographers Study Mudflow Processes in Mountains of China

Участники проекта. Фото: географический факультет МГУ

Employees at the Laboratory of Snow Avalanches and Debris Flows of the Faculty of Geography of Lomonosov Moscow State University together with Chinese scientists examined mudflow basins in mountainous areas of Sichuan Province affected by two devastating earthquakes. In the future, the results of this field work will allow to model mudflows and develop recommendations for the placement of protective structures.

Mudflows pose a significant threat to most mountain regions of the world. The activation of mudflows occurs during strong earthquakes. Seismic tremors lead to rockfalls and landslides, the materials of which become part of mudflows during periods of intense precipitation.

Joint research by the scientists of the Geographical Faculty, MSU and the Institute of Mountain Hazards and the Environment of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has been conducted since 2008 under a long-term agreement on scientific cooperation. Several joint projects have already been implemented to study mudflows in the Caucasus and Kamchatka, in the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, and Gansu.


Здесь прошёл селевой поток. Фото: географический факультет МГУ

In the period from July 24 to 29, 2023, Russian specialists Sergey Chernomorets and Victoria Yudina, together with their Chinese colleagues, carried out a complex of expeditionary work in the area of the Wenchuan (12.05.2008) and Luding (5.09.2022) earthquakes. They studied the mudflow basins of Mozigou, Qipangou, Banzigou, and Xinqiao in the Min Jiang River valley, as well as Hailuogou in the Dadu River valley. Aerial photography using unmanned aerial vehicles was carried out as part of the project.

The participants of the expedition also got acquainted with a major project for the construction of a new road and protective structures in the Hailuogou Valley. The route to the mountain resort at the foot of Mount Gongga (the tallest mountain in Sichuan – 7556 m) was blocked by rockfalls and landslides in September 2022. The representative of the construction company told the experts about the work on the creation of retaining walls, galleries, rockfall protection networks, mudflow-directing structures, overchutes, and tunnels to bypass particularly dangerous areas. As a result, an exchange of views on the measures necessary to protect the road took place.


Учёные за работой. Фото: географический факультет МГУ

At the end of the field work, a joint scientific seminar "Mudflow Hazard in the Mountains of Asia" was held. Russian and Chinese experts made presentations and shared their experience in assessing mudflow hazards, modeling mudflows and outburst floods, and experiments to study the properties of mudflow mass.

Russian and Chinese scientists plan to continue joint research of mudslides in the mountains of China and Russia in 2024. The work was carried out as part of a special program for scientific exchanges of the Chinese Academy of Sciences under the project "Dynamic Evolution of Sediments on Alluvial Cones in Conditions of Multiple Accumulation of Glacial and Stormwater Mudflows".