You are on page 1of 8

EXTRACTION OF TOPOGRAPHIC AND MORPHOMETRIC FEATURES FOR

LANDSLIDE ZONATION – A CASE STUDY FOR OOTY METTUPALAYAM


HIGHWAY

S. Vasantha Kumar
GIS Engineer, Centre for Disaster Mitigation and Management,
VIT University, Vellore, Tamilnadu, India

Paper presented in an International Conference


“MapWorldForum” at Hyderabad during January 22-25, 2007
EXTRACTION OF TOPOGRAPHIC AND MORPHOMETRIC FEATURES FOR
LANDSLIDE ZONATION – A CASE STUDY FOR OOTY METTUPALAYAM
HIGHWAY

S.Vasantha Kumar1 N.Raja2 G. Prasad Babu3


1,2
GIS Engineer, Centre for Disaster Mitigation and Management, VIT University,
Vellore, Tamilnadu, India
3
Geological Specialist, Centre for Disaster Mitigation and Management, VIT University,
Vellore, Tamilnadu, India

Abstract

In hilly regions, landslides constitute one of the major hazards that cause losses to
lives and property. Landslide analysis is a complex analysis, involving multiple of factors
and it needs to be studied systematically in order to locate the areas prone for landslides.
The topographic & morphometric features play an important role in deciding the areas
prone to landslide. In this paper an attempt has been made to derive the topographic
features such as slope, aspect, various convexities and curvatures and morphometric
features such as peak, ridge, pass, plane, channel and pit for Mettupalayam-
Udhagamandalam ghat section of length 54 Kilometers. The 1: 50000 scale Survey of
India toposheets were used to derive contours of 20m intervals. The digitized vector
contour was then converted to Digital Elevation Model (DEM) using the topographic
functions of ENVI 4.3. The pixel size of output DEM was set no smaller than the contour
interval in an attempt to reduce interpolation artifacts. The DEM was then used to derive
topographic features such as slope, aspect, and various convexities and curvatures. All of
the parameters are calculated by fitting a quadratic surface to the digital elevation data for
the entered kernel size and taking the appropriate derivatives. The profile convexity
measures the rate of change of the slope along the profile. The plan convexity measures
the rate of change of the aspect along the plan. The longitudinal curvature and cross-
sectional curvature are also measures of the surface curvature orthogonally in the down
slope and across slope directions. Also the minimum and maximum overall surface
curvatures are calculated.

Finally an output image that classifies each pixel into one of the following terrain
types or morphometric features: peak, ridge, pass, plane, channel, or pit was generated.
The slope and curvature of the surface determines the morphometric feature. For
example, a sloping surface that is concave in the cross-sectional direction is a channel. A
sloping surface that is convex in the cross-sectional direction is a ridge. Peaks have a
convex cross-section and convex longitudinal curvature while pits have concave
curvatures. These derived products if viewed in 3D surface view will be useful in
enhancing the preparation of hazard zonation maps and would pave way for effective
decision making for various development and regulatory activities in the mountainous
regions.
1. INTRODUCTION

Landslides occur as a consequence of a number of triggering factors. In order to


assess landslide susceptibility it is necessary to identify and analyze the factors leading to
landslide. In any landslide susceptibility model, the various factors along with their
weightages are lithology (0.3), slope (0.25), landcover type (0.25), curvature (0.1),
distance to structural elements (0.05) and aspect (0.05). Of the above factors the slope,
aspect and curvature were given a total of 40% weightage [1] which clearly implies its
importance in identifying landslide prone areas. A cost effective method of extracting
these topographic parameters is the use of existing Toposheets. The contour also makes
its possible to identify morphometric features such as peak, plane and passes etc. The use
of these topographic & morphometric features has its real world application in studying
landslide prone areas via generating various maps within GIS. The Nilgiris in Western
Ghats has taken as the study area as it entered an anxious era of landslides since the
calamitous landslides of 1978. The frequency of landslides has increased in recent years
with major slides occurring in 1993, 1995, 2002 and recent landslides of November 2006
[2].The objective of the study is to establish a relationship between various triggering
factors and landslide occurrence and to generate maps of landslide prone areas which
would help effective decision making for various development and regulatory activities
in the mountainous regions.

2. STUDY AREA

The Mettupalayam – Udhagamandalam ghat section of length 54 kilometers has


taken as the study area to identify the landslide prone areas. The highway is an extension
of NH-67 connecting the states Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The highway passes through
important towns like Coonoor, Gudalur and Bandipur in Karnataka. Heavy landslides in
this area have often resulted in diversion of the vehicular traffic to utilise the alternate
Mettupalayam-Kothagiri road instead of the Mettupalayam-Ooty road, which consumes
more time of travel between the two points. The study area is limited to 500m on either
side of the Ooty – Mettupalayam highway as the worst ever landslide is only 150m width
(an average 1,000 metres in length and displacing three million tonnes of earth and rock
debris) occurred in 1993.The area encompasses a total of 39.149 square kilometer and
bounded between 76° 42 and 76°56 E longitudes and 11° 18 and 11° 25 N latitudes. The
elevation ranges between 300m and 2500m above MSL.

3. PREPARATION OF BASE MAP

The Survey of India (SOI) Topo sheets were used in the preparation of base map
at a scale of 1: 50000. The topo sheets numbered 58 A/15 and 58 A/11 was used to derive
the features of ghat road of length 54 kilometers and contours of 20m interval. A total of
32 control points was used to georeference the base map. The road was buffered to 500m
on either side and contours were digitized within that buffer using ArcGIS 9.2. The
elevation values were added as attribute to each contour. The elevation varies between
300m at Mettupalayam and 2480m at Udhagamandalam. The base map is shown in Fig.1.
Fig.1. Base map showing road & contour

4. STUDY OF TOPOGRAPHIC FEATURES

The contour to DEM option of ENVI 4.3 is used to derive the Digital Elevation
Model (DEM). The pixel size of output DEM was set to 30m, no smaller than the contour
interval of 20m in an attempt to reduce interpolation artifacts. The Digital Elevation
Model of 30m pixel size is shown in Fig.2.

Fig.2. Digital Elevation Model

The DEM was then used to derive topographic features such as slope, aspect, and
various convexities and curvatures. All of the parameters are calculated by fitting a
quadratic surface to the digital elevation data for the kernel size of 3×3 as large kernel
sizes may run slower and taking the appropriate derivatives.
4.1. INFLUENCE OF SLOPE & ASPECT ON LANDSLIDES

In the case of the relationship between landslide occurrence and slope, landslide
probability increases according to slope angle. As the slope angle increases, then the
shear stress in the soil or other unconsolidated material generally increases. Gentle slopes
are expected to have a low frequency of landslides because of the generally lower shear
stresses associated with low gradients. The slope was classified into four categories based
on its slope angle as gentle slope, moderate slope, steep slope and very steep slope and is
shown in Fig.3.

Fig.3. Slope map

The area covered by each categories of slope along with its influence on landslide
susceptibility is given in Table 1.

Slope type Criteria used Area covered in Sq.km Landslide susceptibility


Gentle slope 0-18 degree 16.037 Low
Medium slope 18-36 degree 10.089 Medium
Steep slope 36-54 degree 9.081 High
Very steep slope > 54 degree 3.940 Very high

Table 1. Area covered by each slope categories

As expected the landslide prone areas of Burliar & Marapalam falls under steep
slope category which clearly shows that a heavy rainfall is sufficient to make the rocks
and boulders come hurtling down in these steep terrains, that’s what happened in the
recent landslide occurred in November 2006, a few months before.

The aspect map was prepared from the slope map and is shown in Fig. 4. The
direction of slope was divided into eight divisions as seen from the legend.
Fig 4. Aspect map

Most of the places are sloping towards south & south west and Burliar the place
where frequent landslides are occurring is bounded between south east & south west
facing slopes. Therefore, a road tunnel is a safe proposition between Burliar and Coonoor
to avoid landslips from both the sides. The relationship between aspect & landslides can
be well defined if one overlaid the past landslides information especially the details about
the direction along which the mass movement happened.

4.2. INFLUENCE OF CURVATURE ON LANDSLIDES

To establish the relationship between landslide occurrence and curvature, the


profile convexity and plan convexity measures were used. The profile convexity
measures the rate of change of the slope along the profile. The plan convexity measures
the rate of change of the aspect along the plan. In a convexity map a positive curvature
indicates that the surface was convex at that grid/cell. A negative curvature indicates that
the surface was concave at that grid. A value of zero indicates that the surface was flat.
During a heavy rainfall, a concave slope contains more water and retains this water for a
longer period, the more negative a value is, the higher is the probability of a landslide
occurrence. The map of profile convexity is shown in Fig.5

The curvature values ranges between -2.474 to +2.323 and divided into three
categories as Negative curvature, Flat and Positive curvature. The flat areas are the one
having zero curvature and it is seen from the figure that most of the places are having
negative curvature which may increase the landslide susceptibility as it approaches the
extreme value of -2.474.
Fig 5. Map of Profile Convexity

5. STUDY OF MORPHOMETRIC FEATURES

The slope and curvature determines the morphometric feature. The Topographic
modeling function of ENVI was used to derive an output image that classifies each pixel
into one of the following terrain types or morphometric features: peak, ridge, pass, plane,
channel, or pit as shown in the Fig.6.

Fig 6. Map showing morphometric features

For example, a sloping surface that is concave in the cross-sectional direction is a


channel. A sloping surface that is convex in the cross-sectional direction is a ridge. Peaks
have a convex cross-section and convex longitudinal curvature while pits have concave
curvatures. The morphometric parameter which is of prime importance in landslide is
channel.
As seen from the figure, in most places the channel/ drainage line flows across the
road, which implies that the provision of proper drainage is a must to avoid landslips
especially during heavy rainfalls. The recent landslips which occurred few months before
is mainly due to heavy rainfall followed by massive landslips.

6. CONCLUSION

The following conclusions were derived from the study.

1. Landslide prone areas of Burliar & Marapalam falls under steep slope category which
clearly shows that a heavy rainfall is sufficient to make the rocks and boulders come
hurtling down in these steep terrains.
2. Most of the places are sloping towards south & south west and Burliar the place where
frequent landslides are occurring is bounded between south east & south west facing
slopes. Therefore, a road tunnel is a safe proposition between Burliar and Coonoor to
avoid landslips from both the sides. The relationship between aspect & landslides can be
well defined if one overlaid the past landslides information especially the details about
direction along which the mass movement happened.
3. Most of the places are having negative curvature which may increase the landslide
susceptibility as it approaches the extreme value of -2.474.
4. In most places the channel/ drainage line flows across the road, which implies that the
provision of proper drainage is a must to avoid landslips on roads especially during heavy
rainfalls.

REFERENCES

1. M. Komac, M. Ribicic, “Landslide susceptibility map of Slovenia at scale 1 :250.000”,


Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 8, 03990, 2006.

2. Article titled “Re-crowning the Queen of Hills” in THE HINDU dated April 27, 2003.

3. S. Lee a, Digna G. Evangelistab, “Landslide Susceptibility Mapping using Probability


and Statistics Models in Baguio City, Philippines”, Department of Environment and
Natural Resources, North Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines.

4. S.S. Ramakrishnan et al, “Landslide Disaster Management and Planning- A GIS based
Approach”, Indian Cartographer, 2002, pp 192-195.