A coupled discrete element and depth-averaged model for dynamic simulation of flow-like landslides

X. Su, X. Xia, Q. Liang, Jinming Hou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Flow-like landslides commonly happen in mountainous areas and may threaten people's lives, damage their properties, and create negative impact on the environment. Computer modelling has become an effective tool to support landslide risk assessment and management. Models based on discrete element method (DEM) can capture micro-mechanical behaviour of soils, simulate large deformation and have been widely used for landslide simulations. However, these models are computationally too demanding for large-scale applications. On the other hand, depth-averaged models (DAM) have been well reported for simulation of flow-like landslides over large spatial domains due to its relatively high computational efficiency. To combine the advantages of both types of modelling approaches, this paper develops a novel landslide model by coupling a DEM model with a DAM for landslide simulation, in which the DEM component is employed to better simulate the complex landslide dynamics in the source area and the DAM is adopted to predict the predominantly convective movement in the runout and deposition zone. Finally, the new coupled landslide model is validated against several test cases, including a field-scale event. Satisfactory results have been obtained, demonstrating that the coupled model is able to reproduce the dynamic process of flow-like landslides.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104537
Number of pages15
JournalComputers and Geotechnics
Early online date18 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The first author is supported by a PhD scholarship from the China Scholarship Council (No. 201706300057) and this work is partly supported by the WeACT project (NE/S005919/1) funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) through the SHEAR programme.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Coupled model
  • Depth-averaged model
  • Discrete element method
  • Flow-like landslide
  • Granular collapse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Computer Science Applications


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