On 8 August 2010 in the northwestern Chinese province of Gansu, a rainstorm-triggered debris flow devastated the small county of Zhouqu. A modeling study, using a new multiple-phase scalable and extensible geofluid model, suggests that the cause is an intersection of several events. These were a heavy rainstorm, not necessarily the result of global warming, which triggered the landslide and followed a drought that created surface cracks and crevasses; the geology of the region, notably the loess covering heavily weathered surface rock; and the bedrock damage, that deepened the surface crevasses inflicted by the 7.9 magnitude Wenchuan earthquake of 12 May 2008. Deforestation and topsoil erosion were critical
contributors to the massive size of the debris flow. The modeling results underscore the urgency for a high-priority program of revegetation of Zhouqu County, without which the region will remain exposed to future disastrous, “progressive bulking” type landslides.