An exploratory analysis of vegetation strategies to reduce shallow landslide activity on loess hillslopes, Northeast Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, China

Xia song Hu, Gary Brierley*, Hai li Zhu, Guo rong Li, Jiang tao Fu, Xiao qing Mao, Qin qin Yu, Na Qiao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Heavy summer rainfall induces significant soil erosion and shallow landslide activity on the loess hillslopes of the Xining Basin at the northeast margin of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. This study examines the mechanical effects of five native shrubs that can be used to reduce shallow landslide activity. We measured single root tensile resistance and shear resistance, root anatomical structure and direct shear and triaxial shear for soil without roots and five rootsoil composite systems. Results show that Atriplex canescens (Pursh) Nutt. possessed the strongest roots, followed by Caragana korshinskii Kom., Zygophyllum xanthoxylon (Bunge) Maxim., Nitraria tangutorum Bobr. and Lycium chinense Mill. Single root strength and shear resistance relationships with root diameter are characterized by power or exponential relations, consistent with the Mohr-Coulomb law. Root mechanical strength reflects their anatomical structure, especially the percentage of phloem and xylem cells, and the degree and speed of periderm lignifications. The cohesion force of root-soil composite systems is notably higher than that of soil without roots, with increasing amplitudes of cohesion force for A. canescens, C. korshinskii, Z. xanthoxylon, N. tangutorum and L. chinense of 75.9%, 75.1%, 36.2%, 24.6% and 17.0 % respectively. When subjected to shear forces, the soil without root samples show much greater lateral deformation than the root-soil composite systems, reflecting the restraining effects of roots. Findings from this paper indicate that efforts to reduce shallow landslides in this region by enhancing root reinforcement will be achieved most effectively using A. canescens and C. korshinskii.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)668-686
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Mountain Science
Volume10
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Arid environments
  • Root reinforcement
  • Root-soil composite systems
  • Shallow landslide
  • Tensile strength
  • Vegetative hillslope protection

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