Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 76 ›› Issue (1): 87-100.doi: 10.11821/dlxb202101007

• Land Surface Pattern • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The mechanism and sensitivity analysis of soil freeze-thaw erosion on slope in eastern Tibet

HUANG Hai1,2(), TIAN You1,2, LIU Jiankang1,2, ZHANG Jiajia1,2, YANG Dongxu1,2, YANG Shun1,2   

  1. 1. Institute of Exploration Technology, CAGS, Chengdu 611734, China
    2. Technical Center for Geological Hazard Prevention and Control, CGS, Chengdu 611734, China
  • Received:2019-11-25 Revised:2020-10-05 Online:2021-01-25 Published:2021-03-25
  • Supported by:
    The Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research(2019QZKK0902);Geological Survey Project of China Geological Survey(20190505);Geological Survey Project of China Geological Survey(20190644);Geological Survey Project of China Geological Survey(12120113011000)


Freeze-thaw erosion is the main erosion in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. In this study, both the failure process and the transport process of the soil on a slope are analyzed under a similar climatic condition in eastern Tibet. It reveals that the sensitivity factors should be divided into the latent factor and the dominant factor. The latent factors change gradually over time, which include the geological structures, the lithology, and the slope direction. The dominant factors with catastrophe include the climate, the sloping topography, and the vegetation cover. The driving forces of freeze-thaw erosion are the gravity force and hydrodynamic force, while the erosion resistance is controlled by the dual structure of soil and the anchoring force of vegetable roots. On a temporal scale, the freeze-thaw erosion is a cyclic evolution process. It begins with the weathering of bedrock and soil formation, goes through the freezing-thawing and the tensile failure process, and ends with the re-exposure of bedrock after the soil is transported. Generally, this cycle should last a long term, but it could only last several years or decades of the period due to the structure of the soil. Based on the failure mechanism of the limit equilibrium state of the soil, freeze-thaw erosion can be divided into trailed progressive disintegration and multi-level disintegration type, both of which have the characteristics of 'multi-pathogenesis and same symptoms'. The characteristic parameter of freeze-thaw erosion intensity is introduced to describe how those influence factors affect the mechanism of freeze-thaw erosion. The formula is established by the relationship between the intensity value and the factors including both latent factors and dominant factors. It can be used to forecast calculate the amount of soil erosion when there is a standard-value in the study. Although there are still a few discretization errors in the formula building because of the randomness of sensitivity factors, the fitting results can still explain more than 90% of the evolution trend. Moreover, a new model of freeze-thaw erosion intensity based on soil erosion observation is proposed. Therefore, different from previous research, in this paper, the new model of erosion intensity can effectively reduce the errors caused by regional suitability and provide a theoretical basis for formulating countermeasures under different conditions.

Key words: Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, freeze-thaw erosion, mechanical process, cyclic evolution, sensitivity, erosion intensity