Size-distance relationships for hummocks on volcanic rockslide-debris avalanche deposits in Japan

Hidetsugu Yoshida, Toshihiko Sugai, Hiroo Ohmori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Citations (Scopus)


Catastrophic collapse of volcanic edifices and the accompanying rockslide-debris avalanches drastically change landforms and cause disasters around volcanoes. Rapid modification of the landforms created by these events makes it difficult to estimate the magnitudes of prehistoric events and evaluate damage. However, the widespread preservation of hummocks along the course of rockslide-debris avalanches is useful for understanding the physical characteristics of these landslides. We analyzed data on hummocks from seven prehistoric events in northern Japan to derive the relationship between hummock size and distance from landslide source, and interpreted the geomorphic significance of the intercept and slope coefficients of the observed functional relationships. Hummock size decreases as an exponential function of distance for volcanic rockslide-debris avalanches, although each event has its own distinct distribution pattern. The intercept coefficient, α, which corresponds to the initial average size of hummocks (blocks) at the origin of the landslide, shows a strong correlation with the volume of the collapsed mass, indicating that the initial size of blocks at the source may be determined by the volume of the collapsed mass. The slope coefficient, β, which describes the rate of decrease in size of hummocks with distance, shows a strong correlation with the coefficient of friction of the rockslide-debris avalanche, indicating that the attrition or size decrease rate of hummocks is controlled by the mobility of the avalanche. These relationships enable us to estimate the volume of the collapsed mass and the travel distance of an avalanche. Because it is sometimes difficult to obtain the evidence directly indicating the volume of collapses and the damage they caused, the findings are significant also for hazard assessment that the size-distance relationships of hummocks can be obtained from fragmentary remnants of a rockslide-debris avalanche to help reveal the characteristics of the events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-87
Number of pages12
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


  • Hummocks
  • Japan
  • Rockslide-debris avalanche
  • Size-distance relationship
  • Volcanoes

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