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A successful case of emergency landslide response - the Sept. 2, 2014, Shanshucao landslide, Three Gorges Reservoir, China

A successful case of emergency landslide response - the Sept. 2, 2014, Shanshucao landslide,... Background: The Shanshucao landslide is a bedding landslide in the Three Gorges Reservoir. This landslide had not been subject to obvious deformation in the past, nor had it been included in the list of geologic hazards previously identified in the Three Gorges Reservoir. Findings: The Shanshucao slope failed at 13:19 p.m. on Sep. 2, 2014, during which the northern soil mass slid rotationally on a plane under traction produced by the rocky bedding landslide to the south. The Daling Hydropower Station was situated on the Shanshucao landslide, and power generation pipelines feeding the station began leaking four hours before the incident. Heavy rainfall, fluctuation of water level in the reservoir, and leakage of tunnel pipelines caused a sharp increase of hydraulic uplift pressure within the slope. This was the key trigger of the incident. Conclusion: Before the incident, members of the public reported timely clues on slope deformation, and landslide specialists and governmental officials made prompt collaborative decisions that contributed to a successful emergency evacuation of the landslide site. As a consequence, all residents living on the slope evacuated successfully before the occurred. This successful case of emergency landslide evacuation provides guidance for dealing with unexpected geologic hazards in the Three Gorges Reservoir, and in other disaster-prone regions world-wide. Keywords: Three Gorges Reservoir; Shanshucao landslide; Bedding landslide; Water uplift pressure; Emergency evacuation Findings evacuation of this landslide. The MEWNG shows its Emergency survey show that the Shanshucao landslide is powerful ability to deal with emergency landslide. a bedding landslide, the northern soil mass slipped rota- tionally on a plane under traction produced by the rocky Introduction bedding landslide to the south. Heavy rainfall, raise of The Three Gorges Project stands as the largest hydropower water level in the reservoir, and leakage of tunnel pipe- engineering in the world, Since the 1950s, when experts lines inside the slope caused a sharp increase of hy- first argued for its development, extensive efforts have been draulic uplift pressure within the slope. This was the key made on investigation, survey, prevention, and control of trigger of the landslide. Members of the public reported geologic hazards. The geohazards in the Three Gorges timely clues on slope deformation, and landslide special- Reservoir are characterized by their extensive distibution, ists and governmental officials made prompt collabora- considerable influence, and high activity. To combat these tive decisions that contributed to a successful emergency features, the Three Gorges Reservoir has seen the estab- lishment of a monitoring and early warning network of geohazards known as MEWNG. This network is composed of observations from the local people, an established pre- * Correspondence: bolinhuang@aliyun.com paredness system, a professional monitoring system, and Wuhan Centre of China Geological Survey, Wuhan 430205, China Full list of author information is available at the end of the article an information management and early warning command © 2015 Huang et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. Huang et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2015) 2:18 Page 2 of 9 system (Li 2000, 2002). This network effectively combines The Shanshucao slope is situated downstream of Daling the efforts of the local people, geohazard specialists, and Village, and can be divided into two parts according to the governmental officials. Slope information collected from composition of its shallow materials. The southern part is periodic monitoring is reported to the specialists by the composed primarily of bedded bedrock, whereas the local populace, providing clues to work efficiently, and to northern is covered by a 1–10 m thickness of soil. draw firmly-based conclusions. Government officials then Lithologically, the bedrock belongs to the Niejiashan For- make decisions based on this information. This system mation of Jurassic Age (J n), which consists mainly of radically broadens the vision of the geohazard specialists, greyish-green thickly-bedded sandstones in its upper part, and increases the scientific basis of government emer- and purple to red medium-bedded sandstones interbed- gency response decisions. The MEWNG has been shown ded with silty mudstones in its lower part. In this area the to be effective in dealing with unexpected landslides, Niejiashan Formation has a strike of 115° and a dip of 20°. as demonstrated by previous examples in the Xintan The soil mass is composed mostly of eluvium consisting landslide and the Wangxia rockfall (Luo 1986, Wang of sandstone gravels. With a bedding structure, the slope 1996, Le et al. 2011). aspect is 105°, and the average slope angle is 21°, similar The Shanshucao slope is located in Zigui County in to the dip of the bedrock. Vegetation is extensively devel- Three Gorges Reservoir. It is a newborn bedding landslide, oped on the slope. The rocky slope is mainly covered by which failed on Sep. 2, 2014. This landslide has aroused cedar trees, whereas the soil slope is occupied by citrus considerable concern, as it destroyed a small local hydro- trees. A small platform is present at an elevation of 300 m. power station. This was the first instance of significant The top of the slope lies at an elevation of 425 m, damage to a hydropower station in the Three Gorges Res- where it forms a divide between the Qinggan and ervoir from landslide. Fortunately, no casualties or injuries Luogudong Rivers. occurred, due to prompt evacuation before the failure. This As shown in Fig. 2, National Road G348 passes the slope was a successful case of geohazard emergency response in area. This is the nearest traffic artery connecting Yichang the Three Gorges Reservoir, facilitated by the MEWNG City to Shazhenxi Town and Badong County. More im- system. This paper describes the landslide process, the trig- portantly, a small hydropower station named the Daling gering factors involved, and the successful operation of Hydropower Station was situated within the slope area. MEWNG, providing guidance for emergency responses to The Daling Hydropower Station was a diversion hydro- unexpected geohazards in the Three Gorges Reservoir, and power station with an installed capacity of 1,000 KW, and in other regions around the world. was built in 2008. The main buildings of the hydropower station lay the slope, along with a 5-storey dormitory, a An overview of the Shanshucao slope 300 m workshop, pressure pipes, and an impounding The Shanshucao slope is located in Shazhenxi Town, on forebay. More than 20 people were resident at the hydro- the left bank of the Luogudong River, a tributary of the power station. Water used by the hydropower station was Qinggan River in the Three Gorges Reservoir (Fig. 1). The sourced from an upstream gully, and was derived from landslide is only 300 m away from Shazhenxi Town. The the Luogudong River. The water was delivered by tunnel Qianjiangping slope, which is situated along the Qinggan pipelines, and flowed through the Daling slope before River, lies on the northwest of the Shanshucao slope. reaching the impounding forebay on the Shanshucao Fig. 1 Location map of the Shanshucao slope. Inset shows the relative location between the Shanshucao landslide and the Three Gorges Dam Huang et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2015) 2:18 Page 3 of 9 Fig. 2 Aerial view of the Shanshucao slope before failure (taken in July, 2014). Red dotted lines delineate the extent of the landslide slope, from which it was pumped into the pressure pipes for power generation. As specified in relevant Chinese laws, prudent site selec- tion and environmental impact assessment must be conducted prior to commencing construction of any hydropower station. Site selection and subsequent con- struction of the Daling Hydropower Station therefore meant it was recognized as stable by many experts. Conse- quently, this slope was not included in the database of local geohazards, as it was assumed to be safe. Although there had been no visible deformation in the Shanshucao slope in the past, the orientation of the Shanshucao slope Fig. 3 Photographs of leakagess from the pressure pipes. The up and dip of the basement offered potential for structural photo was taken at 12:53 p.m., when only one side was leaking a sliding. This slope could thus be regarded as an over- small amount of water. The photograph at end was taken at looked potential landslide. This potential was realized by 12:59 p.m., when the pipes were leaking a significant volume of the Shanshucao landslide, which occurred quite suddenly water on both sides at 13:19 p.m. on Sept. 2, 2014. Landslide process & emergency disposal process visible deformation had been observed on the slope nearby The forebay channels in the Daling Hydropower Station thepressurepipes,oronNationalHighway G348. started to seep at about 9:00 a.m. on Sep. 2, 2014, and the At around 13:05 p.m., it was concluded from preliminary pressure pipes cracked and leaked. However, no deform- investigation that the forebay and tunnel pipelines had been ation was observed on the ground nearby at that time. The destroyed by deformation of the slope, resulting in penetra- head of the hydropower station immediately contacted the tion of a considerable volume of water into the slope; this chief engineer (one of the authors of this paper) of geo- water then seeped through rock mass fissures. Intensified logical hazards in the Land and Resources Bureau of Zigui deformation and abrupt outflow of underground water sug- County to seek professional assistance, hoping the cause of gested that the slope was actively deforming. At that time, the leakage could be established. At around 12:30 a.m., the more and more visible fractures appeared in the south side chief engineer carried out an initial investigation of the of the Highway G348, and the northern road began to channel seepage and pipe leakage, accompanied by officials bulge intactly, indicating that global deformation as occur- from the Shazhenxi Government. During this investigation, ring. In light of the requirements of the MEWNG in the the leakage increased abruptly, changing from seeping to Three Gorges Reservoir, and after discussion with the jetting (Fig. 3). This change suggested that the pressure geological engineers on-site, the heads of the Shazhenxi pipes had deformed more seriously, resulting in larger Government took the following emergency measures: cracks. Meanwhile, a considerable volume of underground 1) immediate shut-down of the far-end (uphill) water water flowed out in the upstream reaches, at an elevation pumping system to cut off the water flow into the of 180 m a.s.l. (the spring shown in Fig. 2,), with a flow slope; 2) informed the power supply authorities to sus- diameter of 12 cm, and a high flow rate. At this stage, no pend power supply, to prevent risks associated with Huang et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2015) 2:18 Page 4 of 9 destruction of the hydropower station; 3) classify alert whether there was anyone had been injured or killed by zones based on geomorphic conditions, and assign the the landslide. By 14:15 p.m., the officials had ascertained incident with an orange alert level (inferior only to the that there had been no injuries or fatalities, and they then red alert level represented by intense deformation); 4) adjusted the landslide alert level to red. Under a red alert, promptly organize all the residents to evacuate from the landslide is regarded as being under intense deform- the area, and close all relevant roads in the area; 5) ation, landslide hazard could threat to the safety of life and dispatch two technical groups to conduct emergency property around the immediate area of the slide in the next investigations and to delineate the extent of the land- 24 hours, and crowd and traffic control should be carried slide: one group was responsible for observing deform- out for at least the next 24 hours. At 14:16 p.m., the chief ation on the lateral margin along Highway G348, while engineer reported this landslide incident to superiors in the other was sent to observe deformation of the upper the technical management agency, the Bureau of Land Re- slope along the Dengjiawang Road and at higher eleva- sources of Yichang City, and the Geo-Hazard Command tion, to locate the head of the landslide. Center of the Three Gorges Reservoir, and also requested As instructed by the above emergency response plan, additional technical support. A fully-automated displace- the Daling Hydropower Station staff, nearby residents, ment monitor was then installed to perform monitoring and the students and staff of Shazhenxi Middle School all on thelandslidemassand itssurrounding areas. In the evacuated promptly from the alert zone (Fig. 4). Thanks meantime, many experts rushed to the site to examine to the effectiveness of previous emergency evacuation deformation of the landslide. At this stage, the profes- drills in the case of geohazards, all 524 students and staff sional monitoring and consultation phase of the land- from the school had evacuated within 5 min. A total of slide had begun. over 950 persons had evacuated the classified alert zone within 15 min of the evacuation instruction being issued. Losses associated with the landslide At 13:19 a.m., the slope slid rapidly as a whole. At Figure 5 shows a panoramic view of the Shanshucao this time, the technicians dispatched to the peak were slope after the collapse. The landslide had destroyed the still on the Daling slope, but had not arrived at the entire Daling Hydropower Station, including three build- head of the landslide, and fortunately they escaped in- ings and workshops, along with various pipelines. The jury. The Shanshucao slope slid for approximately forebay, powerhouse, and the transmission and supply 2 min or so, with a loud crash and emission of a cloud equipment were all destroyed or buried. National Road of dust. Sporadic rockfalls were observed at the lateral G348 was cut, and a 200 m long segment destroyed, margin and trailing edge of the slope following the along with a 450 m length of village and town roads. A main sliding. 20 hectares citrus orchard was damaged to varying ex- After the landslide, a prompt emergency investigation tent, of which 4.05 hectares were completely destroyed. was organized to determine whether the landslide would The supply lines of 3 power supply sub-stations were tend to expand, and movement resume. Meanwhile, the damaged, 27 utility poles were destroyed, and some governmental officials sent relevant personnel to check Fig. 4 Alert zones defined in the emergency response. The red lines delineate the actual extent of the landslide range, and the dotted orange lines delineate the alert zones before the collapse. No residents live on the opposite bank of the Luogudong River, and that hence that area is excluded from the alert zone Huang et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2015) 2:18 Page 5 of 9 Fig. 5 Panoramic view of the Shanshucao slope after failure (taken on Sept. 4). No remanents of the hydropower station can be seen in the ruins 3,500 m of wires damaged. The direct economic losses into the Luogudong River. The elevation of the water level are estimated to be 5.19 million US dollars. on the day of the landslide was 162.3 m a.s.l. The area of the bedrock slide zone was 15,500 m , and that of the soil mass slide zone 9,300 m , giving a total area of the land- Landslide features slide of almost 25,000 m . The form of the landslide was An intensive field survey was conducted after Shanshucao tongue-shaped, with a length of about 350 m and width of slope failed. The elevation of the head of the landslide was 80–120 m (Fig. 6). The soil mass slide zone had a thick- 285 m, the toe of the suface of rupture of the landslide lay ness of 1–10 m, averaging 5 m. Based on the height at an elevation of 180 m, and the toe of the landslide slid Fig. 6 Sketch map of the Shanshucao landslide. Toothed lines are the landslide cliff, the red lines are major cracks, and the dashed red lines are the range of the influence area Huang et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2015) 2:18 Page 6 of 9 slide time of about 2 minutes and the maximum sliding dis- tance of about 117 m, based on Newton’sLaws ofMotion it can be simply estimated that the maximum speed of movement of the rocky landslide was about 2 m/s. The rocky sliding mass exhibits the representative char- acteristics of translational slide, such as an intact slide mass and wide tension cracks. The structure interbeded soft and hard layers is also prone to translational sliding. The soil cliff and the reduction of sliding distance in the soil mass part of theslideshows that thesoilmasswas drawn toslide by the lateral traction of the rocky sliding mass. The translational slide of the rocky mass led the lateral soil mass to rotationally slide on the surface of rupture. Fig. 7 Photograph of the crack trough between the rocky slide According to subsequent detailed surveys, the lithology mass and the southern flank cliff of the rocky sliding zone was brittle and thinly-bedded silty mudstone, which is also very smooth to the touch difference of the flank cliff, the thickness of the rocky slide (Fig. 9). The surface of the rupture of the soil mass is zone is calculated to be 25–30 m. Therefore, it is esti- sandstone, which also crops out immediately adjacent mated that the volume of the landslide was about to the landslide (Fig. 10). 465,000 m . The slide of the rocky mass caused the formation of ten- Trigger mechanism of the landslide sion cracks around the rocky slide mass (Fig. 7). The As the northern soil mass was drawn by the traction of the width of the southern flank crack is about 12–23 m, with southern rocky sliding mass, only the trigger mechanism of a length of 260 m, and is approximately U-shaped. A large the southern rocky mass is discussed here. number of rock blocks accumulated in its bottom part. Water level fluctuation in the toe of the landslide The tension crack between the rocky slide mass and the produced by regulation of the Three Gorges Reservoir soil mass is V-shaped, and has an average width of 1–3m was naturally considered to be the trigger of the land- (Fig. 8). According to presence of G348 road debris and slide. Due to onset of the seasonal autumn floods, the position of the crown crack, the sliding distance of the water level in the reservoir fluctuates significantly. rocky mass was about 117 m. The sliding distance of the Fig. 11 shows the changes in water level over the period soil mass decreases as it extends to the north. On the from Aug. 13, 2014 to Sep. 13, 2014. Water level rose northern boundary of the landslide, retaining wall B was by 3.8 m between 8:00 am, Sep. 1 and 8:00 am, Sep. 2. cut into two parts, with a horizontal displacement of A rise of this magnitude is unprecedented. The failure 11.9 m, and a vertical displacement of 3.5 m (Fig. 6). was probably triggered by the direct reduction in nor- The general sliding direction of the Shanshucao landslide mal load within the toe of the slope and dynamic hy- was about 105°. Because of the blockage of ridge, the direc- draulic pressure of underground water caused by the tion of the rocky slide mass shifted from 105° to 75° around rising water level (Wang et al. 2004, Singh et al. 2012). the zone of the foot (Fig. 10). According to the observed Fig. 8 Photograph of the crack trough between the rocky slide mass and the northern slide mass, and the soil slide cliff created by the soil mass slide Fig. 9 Photograph of the silty mudstone of the potential slide surface Huang et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2015) 2:18 Page 7 of 9 Fig. 12 Precipitation recorded at Shazhenxi Town between August 1st, 2014 and September 10, 2014 Fig. 10 Weathered surface of the preexisting sandstone layer, 20 m from the northern boundary of the landslide the Shashucao slope, the slide perhaps may not have oc- Precipitation is monitored in Shazhenxi Town. Intense curred. Gentle deformation of the slope would have gener- rain fell from Aug. 27 to Sept. 2, and maximum rainfall oc- ated deformation of the structure inside the slope. This is curred on Sep. 2, with a 24 hour fall of 96.5 mm (Fig. 12). the reason why the forebay and tunnel pipelines deformed. Intense rain may saturate the sliding mass, increase its unit Once water began to leak leaking from these structures, a weight, and decrease its strength (He et al. 2009, Miller large volume of water could enter the mass, leading to the et al. 2009). More importantly in this case, torrential rain great changes of groundwater and forces within the land- may generate dynamic hydraulic pressure, which would re- slide mass. The water originally used for power generation duce the anti-slide force, and increase the slide force. had a high head of pressure and large flow. When entering The toe of the Shashucao slope had been eroded by the into sliding surface through the fissure network, the water Luogudong River long ago, and hence offered little resist- generated high groundwater uplift pressure on the bottom ance to sliding. The results of field survey showed that in of the surface of rupture, and finally initiated the rapid addition to four sets of short fresh fracture surfaces in the sliding of the slope (Fan et al. 2009, Brönnimann 2011). southern flank boundary of the landslide, the structural The mechanical model for the translational landslide with surface of the cliff is brown, and weathering discoloration intact rocky mass can be simplified as a two-dimensional and clay adhered to most of the surface (Fig. 13). This longitudinal section, as showninFig.14a.The situationof shows that this flank structural surface was pre-existing. the landslide after failure is sketched in Fig. 14b. The lateral boundary offered friction and some tension re- sistance from the limited residual rock bridge on the south Discussion side, and the soil adjacent to the rock mass on the north Only several hours elapsed between the appearance of side. However, these resistances were limited. visible deformation of the Shanshucao slope to the offi- Under the conditions of intense rain and rapid rise of cial decision to evacuate. The rapid increase of the dis- the water level, the Shashucao landslide began to deform placement of the fissure on Highway G348 road was the slowly. In this case, if there had been no pressure pipe on main reason which led to the prompt official decision. Although the detailed boundary of the landslide was not clear at that stage, the displacement became more larger and larger in a very short time, which showed that the Fig. 13 Lateral view of the Shanshucao Landslide (taken on Sep. 12, Fig. 11 Daily water level change of the Three Gorges Reservoir between 2014). The cliff is the northern flank cliff of the landslide. Black dotted August 13, 2014 and September 12, 2014 lines are damaged parts of the rock bridge (fresh exposures) Huang et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2015) 2:18 Page 8 of 9 Fig. 14 Schematic diagram of the mechanical model (a) before the landslide and (b) after the landslide slope was deforming rapidly and had the tendency to can be used to quantitatively evaluate the potential for land- fail. Under these conditions, an official decision was slide. An example of the use of such data is given by the needed to deal with the emergency, without delay. If Wangxia rockmass which is located in the Wu Gorges of routine practice had been followed, by first ascertaining the Three Gorges Reservior. Acceleration of deformation the scale and extent of landslide, and then making the was detected by monitoring on 21st Oct, 2010, This data official decision, action would have been delayed, and helped in the successful issuing of a warning before mass casualties would almost certainly have resulted. movement occurred. An early official evacuation decision was also made be- In short, most official evacuation decisions depend on fore the Qianjiangping landslide (Fig. 1), which occurred in informed judgments from engineering geologists, on the July 13th, 2003. Between June 27th and July 4th of that year, potential for imminent failure of landslides. fissures appeared in the crown and the middle part of the Qiangjiangping landslide. In these eight days, the relative Conclusions displacement of the fissure reached about 4 ~ 6 cm. The of- A detailed field investigation was made of the Shanshucao ficial decision of evacuation was at 21:40 p.m in 12th, 2003, landslide that occurred on Sept. 2, 2014, in the Three when the ground of the front platform of the Qianjiangping Gorges Reservoir. The process and the mechanism of the landslide began to bulge, and loud underground noises landslide, the factors affecting slope failure, and especially could be heard. the emergency evacuation procedure were examined. In neither of these two landslides was any professional Based on fieldwork and analyses, the following conclusions monitoring work carried out before they failed. These two were reached: official evacuation decisions were made based on qualitative judgements of the imminent potential for landslide. These 1. Shanshucao landslide is a bedding landslide with a judgements depended on the experience of the engineering volume of 465,000 m . The translational slide of the geologists who were on-site. If professional monitoring data rocky mass led the lateral soil mass to slide is available, observation of the acceleration of deformation rotationally on the surface of rupture. The southern Huang et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2015) 2:18 Page 9 of 9 flank boundary of the rocky mass was a pre-existing Singh Y, Bhat GM, Sharma V, Pandita SK, Thakur KK (2012) Reservoir induced landslide at Assar, Jammu and Kashmir: a case study. Journal Geological structural plane. Society of India 80:435–439 2. Intense rain and rapid raise of water level led the Wang S (1996) Review on prediction of Xintan landslide. The Chinese Journal of Shashucao landslide to deform slowly. Leakage of Geological Hazard and Control 7(S):11–19 Wang FW, Zhang Y, Huo ZT, Tatsunori M, Huang BL (2004) The July 14, 2003 tunnel pipelines produced a high uplift pressure, Qianjiangping landslide, Three Gorges Reservoir, China. Landslides 1:157–162 which was the key trigger of the slide. 3. The keys to the successful emergency evacuation of the Shanshucao landslide lie in timely reports by the local people, and collaborative decisions made by landslide specialists and government officials. This landslide crisis was solved successfully by the MEWNG system that operates in the Three Gorges Reservoir. 4. Establishment of warning systems similar to MEWNG is recommended for geological disaster-prone areas around the world. Competing interests The authors declare that they have no competing interests. Authors’ contributions Bolin Huang and Zuzhan Yu chose the research direction of this paper, Zuzhan Yu and Wangjun Zheng collected informations of this landslide before and during failure. Bolin Huang and Guangning Liu carried out the emergency survey after failure, and drafted the manuscript. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript. Acknowledgements This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (ID: 41372321), and the China Geological Survey Geo-hazard project (ID: 12120114079301). The authors would like to thank Prof. Barry Roser and Prof. Wang Fawu which made great effort to improve this paper, and also several anonymous reviewers are appreciated. Author details Wuhan Centre of China Geological Survey, Wuhan 430205, China. Geological Environment Monitoring Station of Zigui County, Zigui 443600, China. Received: 22 December 2014 Accepted: 10 July 2015 References Brönnimann CS (2011) Effect of Groundwater on Landslide Triggering. The thesis for Ph.D. Laboratory of Engineering and Environmental Geology, EPF Lausanne, Switzerland Fan X, Xu Q, Zhang Z, Meng D, Tang R (2009) The genetic mechanism of a translational landslide. Bulletin of Engineering Geology and the Environment 68(2):231–244 He K, Wang S, Du W, Wang S (2009) Dynamic features and effects of rainfall on landslides in the Three Gorges Reservoir region, China: using the Xintan landslide and the large Huangya landslide as the examples. Environmental Earth Sciences 59(6):1267–1274 Submit your manuscript to a Le Q, Wang H, Xue X, Gao Y, Jin X, Zhang J, Pan S (2011) Deformation journal and benefi t from: monitoring and failure mechanism of wangxia dangerous rock mass in wushan county. Chinese Journal of Engineering Geology 19(6):823–831 7 Convenient online submission Li L (2000) The construction on geological disaster pre-warning system with the 7 Rigorous peer review Chinese characteristics. Geology in China 4:6–8 Li L (2002) Landslide’s prevention and control in the Yangtze gorges reservoir 7 Immediate publication on acceptance area in China. Land & Resource 4:4–7 7 Open access: articles freely available online Luo P (1986) The deformation and emergency forecasting on Xintan landslide. 7 High visibility within the fi eld Chinese Bulletin of Soil and Water Conservation 4:40–45 7 Retaining the copyright to your article Miller S, Brewer T, Harris N (2009) Rainfall thresholding and susceptibility assessment of rainfall-induced landslides: application to landslide management in St Thomas, Jamaica. Bulletin of Engineering Geology and Submit your next manuscript at 7 springeropen.com the Environment 68(4):539–550 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Geoenvironmental Disasters Springer Journals

A successful case of emergency landslide response - the Sept. 2, 2014, Shanshucao landslide, Three Gorges Reservoir, China

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Springer Journals
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Copyright © 2015 by Huang et al.
Subject
Environment; Environment, general; Earth Sciences, general; Geography (general); Geoecology/Natural Processes; Natural Hazards; Environmental Science and Engineering
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10.1186/s40677-015-0026-5
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Abstract

Background: The Shanshucao landslide is a bedding landslide in the Three Gorges Reservoir. This landslide had not been subject to obvious deformation in the past, nor had it been included in the list of geologic hazards previously identified in the Three Gorges Reservoir. Findings: The Shanshucao slope failed at 13:19 p.m. on Sep. 2, 2014, during which the northern soil mass slid rotationally on a plane under traction produced by the rocky bedding landslide to the south. The Daling Hydropower Station was situated on the Shanshucao landslide, and power generation pipelines feeding the station began leaking four hours before the incident. Heavy rainfall, fluctuation of water level in the reservoir, and leakage of tunnel pipelines caused a sharp increase of hydraulic uplift pressure within the slope. This was the key trigger of the incident. Conclusion: Before the incident, members of the public reported timely clues on slope deformation, and landslide specialists and governmental officials made prompt collaborative decisions that contributed to a successful emergency evacuation of the landslide site. As a consequence, all residents living on the slope evacuated successfully before the occurred. This successful case of emergency landslide evacuation provides guidance for dealing with unexpected geologic hazards in the Three Gorges Reservoir, and in other disaster-prone regions world-wide. Keywords: Three Gorges Reservoir; Shanshucao landslide; Bedding landslide; Water uplift pressure; Emergency evacuation Findings evacuation of this landslide. The MEWNG shows its Emergency survey show that the Shanshucao landslide is powerful ability to deal with emergency landslide. a bedding landslide, the northern soil mass slipped rota- tionally on a plane under traction produced by the rocky Introduction bedding landslide to the south. Heavy rainfall, raise of The Three Gorges Project stands as the largest hydropower water level in the reservoir, and leakage of tunnel pipe- engineering in the world, Since the 1950s, when experts lines inside the slope caused a sharp increase of hy- first argued for its development, extensive efforts have been draulic uplift pressure within the slope. This was the key made on investigation, survey, prevention, and control of trigger of the landslide. Members of the public reported geologic hazards. The geohazards in the Three Gorges timely clues on slope deformation, and landslide special- Reservoir are characterized by their extensive distibution, ists and governmental officials made prompt collabora- considerable influence, and high activity. To combat these tive decisions that contributed to a successful emergency features, the Three Gorges Reservoir has seen the estab- lishment of a monitoring and early warning network of geohazards known as MEWNG. This network is composed of observations from the local people, an established pre- * Correspondence: bolinhuang@aliyun.com paredness system, a professional monitoring system, and Wuhan Centre of China Geological Survey, Wuhan 430205, China Full list of author information is available at the end of the article an information management and early warning command © 2015 Huang et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. Huang et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2015) 2:18 Page 2 of 9 system (Li 2000, 2002). This network effectively combines The Shanshucao slope is situated downstream of Daling the efforts of the local people, geohazard specialists, and Village, and can be divided into two parts according to the governmental officials. Slope information collected from composition of its shallow materials. The southern part is periodic monitoring is reported to the specialists by the composed primarily of bedded bedrock, whereas the local populace, providing clues to work efficiently, and to northern is covered by a 1–10 m thickness of soil. draw firmly-based conclusions. Government officials then Lithologically, the bedrock belongs to the Niejiashan For- make decisions based on this information. This system mation of Jurassic Age (J n), which consists mainly of radically broadens the vision of the geohazard specialists, greyish-green thickly-bedded sandstones in its upper part, and increases the scientific basis of government emer- and purple to red medium-bedded sandstones interbed- gency response decisions. The MEWNG has been shown ded with silty mudstones in its lower part. In this area the to be effective in dealing with unexpected landslides, Niejiashan Formation has a strike of 115° and a dip of 20°. as demonstrated by previous examples in the Xintan The soil mass is composed mostly of eluvium consisting landslide and the Wangxia rockfall (Luo 1986, Wang of sandstone gravels. With a bedding structure, the slope 1996, Le et al. 2011). aspect is 105°, and the average slope angle is 21°, similar The Shanshucao slope is located in Zigui County in to the dip of the bedrock. Vegetation is extensively devel- Three Gorges Reservoir. It is a newborn bedding landslide, oped on the slope. The rocky slope is mainly covered by which failed on Sep. 2, 2014. This landslide has aroused cedar trees, whereas the soil slope is occupied by citrus considerable concern, as it destroyed a small local hydro- trees. A small platform is present at an elevation of 300 m. power station. This was the first instance of significant The top of the slope lies at an elevation of 425 m, damage to a hydropower station in the Three Gorges Res- where it forms a divide between the Qinggan and ervoir from landslide. Fortunately, no casualties or injuries Luogudong Rivers. occurred, due to prompt evacuation before the failure. This As shown in Fig. 2, National Road G348 passes the slope was a successful case of geohazard emergency response in area. This is the nearest traffic artery connecting Yichang the Three Gorges Reservoir, facilitated by the MEWNG City to Shazhenxi Town and Badong County. More im- system. This paper describes the landslide process, the trig- portantly, a small hydropower station named the Daling gering factors involved, and the successful operation of Hydropower Station was situated within the slope area. MEWNG, providing guidance for emergency responses to The Daling Hydropower Station was a diversion hydro- unexpected geohazards in the Three Gorges Reservoir, and power station with an installed capacity of 1,000 KW, and in other regions around the world. was built in 2008. The main buildings of the hydropower station lay the slope, along with a 5-storey dormitory, a An overview of the Shanshucao slope 300 m workshop, pressure pipes, and an impounding The Shanshucao slope is located in Shazhenxi Town, on forebay. More than 20 people were resident at the hydro- the left bank of the Luogudong River, a tributary of the power station. Water used by the hydropower station was Qinggan River in the Three Gorges Reservoir (Fig. 1). The sourced from an upstream gully, and was derived from landslide is only 300 m away from Shazhenxi Town. The the Luogudong River. The water was delivered by tunnel Qianjiangping slope, which is situated along the Qinggan pipelines, and flowed through the Daling slope before River, lies on the northwest of the Shanshucao slope. reaching the impounding forebay on the Shanshucao Fig. 1 Location map of the Shanshucao slope. Inset shows the relative location between the Shanshucao landslide and the Three Gorges Dam Huang et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2015) 2:18 Page 3 of 9 Fig. 2 Aerial view of the Shanshucao slope before failure (taken in July, 2014). Red dotted lines delineate the extent of the landslide slope, from which it was pumped into the pressure pipes for power generation. As specified in relevant Chinese laws, prudent site selec- tion and environmental impact assessment must be conducted prior to commencing construction of any hydropower station. Site selection and subsequent con- struction of the Daling Hydropower Station therefore meant it was recognized as stable by many experts. Conse- quently, this slope was not included in the database of local geohazards, as it was assumed to be safe. Although there had been no visible deformation in the Shanshucao slope in the past, the orientation of the Shanshucao slope Fig. 3 Photographs of leakagess from the pressure pipes. The up and dip of the basement offered potential for structural photo was taken at 12:53 p.m., when only one side was leaking a sliding. This slope could thus be regarded as an over- small amount of water. The photograph at end was taken at looked potential landslide. This potential was realized by 12:59 p.m., when the pipes were leaking a significant volume of the Shanshucao landslide, which occurred quite suddenly water on both sides at 13:19 p.m. on Sept. 2, 2014. Landslide process & emergency disposal process visible deformation had been observed on the slope nearby The forebay channels in the Daling Hydropower Station thepressurepipes,oronNationalHighway G348. started to seep at about 9:00 a.m. on Sep. 2, 2014, and the At around 13:05 p.m., it was concluded from preliminary pressure pipes cracked and leaked. However, no deform- investigation that the forebay and tunnel pipelines had been ation was observed on the ground nearby at that time. The destroyed by deformation of the slope, resulting in penetra- head of the hydropower station immediately contacted the tion of a considerable volume of water into the slope; this chief engineer (one of the authors of this paper) of geo- water then seeped through rock mass fissures. Intensified logical hazards in the Land and Resources Bureau of Zigui deformation and abrupt outflow of underground water sug- County to seek professional assistance, hoping the cause of gested that the slope was actively deforming. At that time, the leakage could be established. At around 12:30 a.m., the more and more visible fractures appeared in the south side chief engineer carried out an initial investigation of the of the Highway G348, and the northern road began to channel seepage and pipe leakage, accompanied by officials bulge intactly, indicating that global deformation as occur- from the Shazhenxi Government. During this investigation, ring. In light of the requirements of the MEWNG in the the leakage increased abruptly, changing from seeping to Three Gorges Reservoir, and after discussion with the jetting (Fig. 3). This change suggested that the pressure geological engineers on-site, the heads of the Shazhenxi pipes had deformed more seriously, resulting in larger Government took the following emergency measures: cracks. Meanwhile, a considerable volume of underground 1) immediate shut-down of the far-end (uphill) water water flowed out in the upstream reaches, at an elevation pumping system to cut off the water flow into the of 180 m a.s.l. (the spring shown in Fig. 2,), with a flow slope; 2) informed the power supply authorities to sus- diameter of 12 cm, and a high flow rate. At this stage, no pend power supply, to prevent risks associated with Huang et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2015) 2:18 Page 4 of 9 destruction of the hydropower station; 3) classify alert whether there was anyone had been injured or killed by zones based on geomorphic conditions, and assign the the landslide. By 14:15 p.m., the officials had ascertained incident with an orange alert level (inferior only to the that there had been no injuries or fatalities, and they then red alert level represented by intense deformation); 4) adjusted the landslide alert level to red. Under a red alert, promptly organize all the residents to evacuate from the landslide is regarded as being under intense deform- the area, and close all relevant roads in the area; 5) ation, landslide hazard could threat to the safety of life and dispatch two technical groups to conduct emergency property around the immediate area of the slide in the next investigations and to delineate the extent of the land- 24 hours, and crowd and traffic control should be carried slide: one group was responsible for observing deform- out for at least the next 24 hours. At 14:16 p.m., the chief ation on the lateral margin along Highway G348, while engineer reported this landslide incident to superiors in the other was sent to observe deformation of the upper the technical management agency, the Bureau of Land Re- slope along the Dengjiawang Road and at higher eleva- sources of Yichang City, and the Geo-Hazard Command tion, to locate the head of the landslide. Center of the Three Gorges Reservoir, and also requested As instructed by the above emergency response plan, additional technical support. A fully-automated displace- the Daling Hydropower Station staff, nearby residents, ment monitor was then installed to perform monitoring and the students and staff of Shazhenxi Middle School all on thelandslidemassand itssurrounding areas. In the evacuated promptly from the alert zone (Fig. 4). Thanks meantime, many experts rushed to the site to examine to the effectiveness of previous emergency evacuation deformation of the landslide. At this stage, the profes- drills in the case of geohazards, all 524 students and staff sional monitoring and consultation phase of the land- from the school had evacuated within 5 min. A total of slide had begun. over 950 persons had evacuated the classified alert zone within 15 min of the evacuation instruction being issued. Losses associated with the landslide At 13:19 a.m., the slope slid rapidly as a whole. At Figure 5 shows a panoramic view of the Shanshucao this time, the technicians dispatched to the peak were slope after the collapse. The landslide had destroyed the still on the Daling slope, but had not arrived at the entire Daling Hydropower Station, including three build- head of the landslide, and fortunately they escaped in- ings and workshops, along with various pipelines. The jury. The Shanshucao slope slid for approximately forebay, powerhouse, and the transmission and supply 2 min or so, with a loud crash and emission of a cloud equipment were all destroyed or buried. National Road of dust. Sporadic rockfalls were observed at the lateral G348 was cut, and a 200 m long segment destroyed, margin and trailing edge of the slope following the along with a 450 m length of village and town roads. A main sliding. 20 hectares citrus orchard was damaged to varying ex- After the landslide, a prompt emergency investigation tent, of which 4.05 hectares were completely destroyed. was organized to determine whether the landslide would The supply lines of 3 power supply sub-stations were tend to expand, and movement resume. Meanwhile, the damaged, 27 utility poles were destroyed, and some governmental officials sent relevant personnel to check Fig. 4 Alert zones defined in the emergency response. The red lines delineate the actual extent of the landslide range, and the dotted orange lines delineate the alert zones before the collapse. No residents live on the opposite bank of the Luogudong River, and that hence that area is excluded from the alert zone Huang et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2015) 2:18 Page 5 of 9 Fig. 5 Panoramic view of the Shanshucao slope after failure (taken on Sept. 4). No remanents of the hydropower station can be seen in the ruins 3,500 m of wires damaged. The direct economic losses into the Luogudong River. The elevation of the water level are estimated to be 5.19 million US dollars. on the day of the landslide was 162.3 m a.s.l. The area of the bedrock slide zone was 15,500 m , and that of the soil mass slide zone 9,300 m , giving a total area of the land- Landslide features slide of almost 25,000 m . The form of the landslide was An intensive field survey was conducted after Shanshucao tongue-shaped, with a length of about 350 m and width of slope failed. The elevation of the head of the landslide was 80–120 m (Fig. 6). The soil mass slide zone had a thick- 285 m, the toe of the suface of rupture of the landslide lay ness of 1–10 m, averaging 5 m. Based on the height at an elevation of 180 m, and the toe of the landslide slid Fig. 6 Sketch map of the Shanshucao landslide. Toothed lines are the landslide cliff, the red lines are major cracks, and the dashed red lines are the range of the influence area Huang et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2015) 2:18 Page 6 of 9 slide time of about 2 minutes and the maximum sliding dis- tance of about 117 m, based on Newton’sLaws ofMotion it can be simply estimated that the maximum speed of movement of the rocky landslide was about 2 m/s. The rocky sliding mass exhibits the representative char- acteristics of translational slide, such as an intact slide mass and wide tension cracks. The structure interbeded soft and hard layers is also prone to translational sliding. The soil cliff and the reduction of sliding distance in the soil mass part of theslideshows that thesoilmasswas drawn toslide by the lateral traction of the rocky sliding mass. The translational slide of the rocky mass led the lateral soil mass to rotationally slide on the surface of rupture. Fig. 7 Photograph of the crack trough between the rocky slide According to subsequent detailed surveys, the lithology mass and the southern flank cliff of the rocky sliding zone was brittle and thinly-bedded silty mudstone, which is also very smooth to the touch difference of the flank cliff, the thickness of the rocky slide (Fig. 9). The surface of the rupture of the soil mass is zone is calculated to be 25–30 m. Therefore, it is esti- sandstone, which also crops out immediately adjacent mated that the volume of the landslide was about to the landslide (Fig. 10). 465,000 m . The slide of the rocky mass caused the formation of ten- Trigger mechanism of the landslide sion cracks around the rocky slide mass (Fig. 7). The As the northern soil mass was drawn by the traction of the width of the southern flank crack is about 12–23 m, with southern rocky sliding mass, only the trigger mechanism of a length of 260 m, and is approximately U-shaped. A large the southern rocky mass is discussed here. number of rock blocks accumulated in its bottom part. Water level fluctuation in the toe of the landslide The tension crack between the rocky slide mass and the produced by regulation of the Three Gorges Reservoir soil mass is V-shaped, and has an average width of 1–3m was naturally considered to be the trigger of the land- (Fig. 8). According to presence of G348 road debris and slide. Due to onset of the seasonal autumn floods, the position of the crown crack, the sliding distance of the water level in the reservoir fluctuates significantly. rocky mass was about 117 m. The sliding distance of the Fig. 11 shows the changes in water level over the period soil mass decreases as it extends to the north. On the from Aug. 13, 2014 to Sep. 13, 2014. Water level rose northern boundary of the landslide, retaining wall B was by 3.8 m between 8:00 am, Sep. 1 and 8:00 am, Sep. 2. cut into two parts, with a horizontal displacement of A rise of this magnitude is unprecedented. The failure 11.9 m, and a vertical displacement of 3.5 m (Fig. 6). was probably triggered by the direct reduction in nor- The general sliding direction of the Shanshucao landslide mal load within the toe of the slope and dynamic hy- was about 105°. Because of the blockage of ridge, the direc- draulic pressure of underground water caused by the tion of the rocky slide mass shifted from 105° to 75° around rising water level (Wang et al. 2004, Singh et al. 2012). the zone of the foot (Fig. 10). According to the observed Fig. 8 Photograph of the crack trough between the rocky slide mass and the northern slide mass, and the soil slide cliff created by the soil mass slide Fig. 9 Photograph of the silty mudstone of the potential slide surface Huang et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2015) 2:18 Page 7 of 9 Fig. 12 Precipitation recorded at Shazhenxi Town between August 1st, 2014 and September 10, 2014 Fig. 10 Weathered surface of the preexisting sandstone layer, 20 m from the northern boundary of the landslide the Shashucao slope, the slide perhaps may not have oc- Precipitation is monitored in Shazhenxi Town. Intense curred. Gentle deformation of the slope would have gener- rain fell from Aug. 27 to Sept. 2, and maximum rainfall oc- ated deformation of the structure inside the slope. This is curred on Sep. 2, with a 24 hour fall of 96.5 mm (Fig. 12). the reason why the forebay and tunnel pipelines deformed. Intense rain may saturate the sliding mass, increase its unit Once water began to leak leaking from these structures, a weight, and decrease its strength (He et al. 2009, Miller large volume of water could enter the mass, leading to the et al. 2009). More importantly in this case, torrential rain great changes of groundwater and forces within the land- may generate dynamic hydraulic pressure, which would re- slide mass. The water originally used for power generation duce the anti-slide force, and increase the slide force. had a high head of pressure and large flow. When entering The toe of the Shashucao slope had been eroded by the into sliding surface through the fissure network, the water Luogudong River long ago, and hence offered little resist- generated high groundwater uplift pressure on the bottom ance to sliding. The results of field survey showed that in of the surface of rupture, and finally initiated the rapid addition to four sets of short fresh fracture surfaces in the sliding of the slope (Fan et al. 2009, Brönnimann 2011). southern flank boundary of the landslide, the structural The mechanical model for the translational landslide with surface of the cliff is brown, and weathering discoloration intact rocky mass can be simplified as a two-dimensional and clay adhered to most of the surface (Fig. 13). This longitudinal section, as showninFig.14a.The situationof shows that this flank structural surface was pre-existing. the landslide after failure is sketched in Fig. 14b. The lateral boundary offered friction and some tension re- sistance from the limited residual rock bridge on the south Discussion side, and the soil adjacent to the rock mass on the north Only several hours elapsed between the appearance of side. However, these resistances were limited. visible deformation of the Shanshucao slope to the offi- Under the conditions of intense rain and rapid rise of cial decision to evacuate. The rapid increase of the dis- the water level, the Shashucao landslide began to deform placement of the fissure on Highway G348 road was the slowly. In this case, if there had been no pressure pipe on main reason which led to the prompt official decision. Although the detailed boundary of the landslide was not clear at that stage, the displacement became more larger and larger in a very short time, which showed that the Fig. 13 Lateral view of the Shanshucao Landslide (taken on Sep. 12, Fig. 11 Daily water level change of the Three Gorges Reservoir between 2014). The cliff is the northern flank cliff of the landslide. Black dotted August 13, 2014 and September 12, 2014 lines are damaged parts of the rock bridge (fresh exposures) Huang et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2015) 2:18 Page 8 of 9 Fig. 14 Schematic diagram of the mechanical model (a) before the landslide and (b) after the landslide slope was deforming rapidly and had the tendency to can be used to quantitatively evaluate the potential for land- fail. Under these conditions, an official decision was slide. An example of the use of such data is given by the needed to deal with the emergency, without delay. If Wangxia rockmass which is located in the Wu Gorges of routine practice had been followed, by first ascertaining the Three Gorges Reservior. Acceleration of deformation the scale and extent of landslide, and then making the was detected by monitoring on 21st Oct, 2010, This data official decision, action would have been delayed, and helped in the successful issuing of a warning before mass casualties would almost certainly have resulted. movement occurred. An early official evacuation decision was also made be- In short, most official evacuation decisions depend on fore the Qianjiangping landslide (Fig. 1), which occurred in informed judgments from engineering geologists, on the July 13th, 2003. Between June 27th and July 4th of that year, potential for imminent failure of landslides. fissures appeared in the crown and the middle part of the Qiangjiangping landslide. In these eight days, the relative Conclusions displacement of the fissure reached about 4 ~ 6 cm. The of- A detailed field investigation was made of the Shanshucao ficial decision of evacuation was at 21:40 p.m in 12th, 2003, landslide that occurred on Sept. 2, 2014, in the Three when the ground of the front platform of the Qianjiangping Gorges Reservoir. The process and the mechanism of the landslide began to bulge, and loud underground noises landslide, the factors affecting slope failure, and especially could be heard. the emergency evacuation procedure were examined. In neither of these two landslides was any professional Based on fieldwork and analyses, the following conclusions monitoring work carried out before they failed. These two were reached: official evacuation decisions were made based on qualitative judgements of the imminent potential for landslide. These 1. Shanshucao landslide is a bedding landslide with a judgements depended on the experience of the engineering volume of 465,000 m . The translational slide of the geologists who were on-site. If professional monitoring data rocky mass led the lateral soil mass to slide is available, observation of the acceleration of deformation rotationally on the surface of rupture. The southern Huang et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2015) 2:18 Page 9 of 9 flank boundary of the rocky mass was a pre-existing Singh Y, Bhat GM, Sharma V, Pandita SK, Thakur KK (2012) Reservoir induced landslide at Assar, Jammu and Kashmir: a case study. Journal Geological structural plane. Society of India 80:435–439 2. Intense rain and rapid raise of water level led the Wang S (1996) Review on prediction of Xintan landslide. The Chinese Journal of Shashucao landslide to deform slowly. Leakage of Geological Hazard and Control 7(S):11–19 Wang FW, Zhang Y, Huo ZT, Tatsunori M, Huang BL (2004) The July 14, 2003 tunnel pipelines produced a high uplift pressure, Qianjiangping landslide, Three Gorges Reservoir, China. Landslides 1:157–162 which was the key trigger of the slide. 3. The keys to the successful emergency evacuation of the Shanshucao landslide lie in timely reports by the local people, and collaborative decisions made by landslide specialists and government officials. This landslide crisis was solved successfully by the MEWNG system that operates in the Three Gorges Reservoir. 4. Establishment of warning systems similar to MEWNG is recommended for geological disaster-prone areas around the world. Competing interests The authors declare that they have no competing interests. Authors’ contributions Bolin Huang and Zuzhan Yu chose the research direction of this paper, Zuzhan Yu and Wangjun Zheng collected informations of this landslide before and during failure. Bolin Huang and Guangning Liu carried out the emergency survey after failure, and drafted the manuscript. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript. Acknowledgements This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (ID: 41372321), and the China Geological Survey Geo-hazard project (ID: 12120114079301). The authors would like to thank Prof. Barry Roser and Prof. Wang Fawu which made great effort to improve this paper, and also several anonymous reviewers are appreciated. Author details Wuhan Centre of China Geological Survey, Wuhan 430205, China. Geological Environment Monitoring Station of Zigui County, Zigui 443600, China. 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