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Bull Eng Geol Environ (2006) 65:341–411

DOI 10.1007/s10064-006-0064-z


Engineering geology maps: landslides and geographical

information systems
J. Chacón Æ C. Irigaray Æ T. Fernández Æ
R. El Hamdouni

Received: 6 June 2005 / Accepted: 24 June 2006 / Published online: 31 October 2006
 Springer-Verlag 2006

Abstract IAEG Commission No. 1—Engineering Eastern Australua and their application 1992; Land-
Geological Maps—is developing a guide to hazard slide risk assessment and acceptable risk. Can Geotech
maps. Scientists from 17 countries have participated. J 31:261–272, 1994) are taken as references. It is hoped
This paper is one of a series that presents the results of this will also add to the international usefulness of
that work. It provides a general review of GIS landslide these maps as tools for landslide prevention and miti-
mapping techniques and basic concepts of landslide gation. Six hundred and sixty one papers and books
mapping. Three groups of maps are considered: maps related to the topic are included in the references,
of spatial incidence of landslides, maps of spatial– many of which are reviewed in the text.
temporal incidence and forecasting of landslides and
maps of assessment of the consequences of landslides. Keywords GIS  Landslides 
With the current era of powerful microcomputers and IAEG Commission No. 1 
widespread use of GIS packages, large numbers of Engineering geological maps
papers on the subject are becoming available, fre-
quently founded on different basic concepts. In order
Résumé La Commission N1 de l’AIGI >Cartes de
to achieve a better understanding and comparison, the
géologie de l’ingénieur réalise un guide sur les cartes
concepts proposed by Varnes (Landslide hazard
d’aléas. Des scientifiques de 17 pays ont apporté leur
zonation: a review of principles and practice, 1984) and
contribution. Cet article est l’un d’une série d’articles
Fell (Some landslide risk zoning schemes in use in
relatant les travaux de cette Commission. Il présente
les concepts de base de la cartographie de glissements
This report is being continually updated and further references de terrain ainsi qu’un panorama de l’apport des tech-
can be seen on the IAEG website ( under niques SIG (Systèmes d’Information Géographique) à
Commission No. 1.
cette cartographie. Trois groupes de cartes ont été
J. Chacón (&)  C. Irigaray  R. El Hamdouni considérés: des cartes d’occurrence spatiale de glisse-
Department of Civil Engineering, University of Granada, ments de terrain, des cartes d’occurrence spatio-tem-
Granada, Spain porelle et de prévision de glissements de terrain et des
e-mail: cartes d’évaluation des conséquences de glissements de
C. Irigaray terrain. A notre époque de développement de la micro-
e-mail: informatique et des logiciels SIG, de nombreuses
R. El Hamdouni publications sont produites sur ce sujet, avec différen-
e-mail: tes bases conceptuelles. Afin de faciliter compréhen-
T. Fernández sion et comparaisons, les concepts proposés par Varnes
Department of Photogrammetry, (Landslide hazard zonation: a review of principles and
Geodesy and Cartography, University of Jaen, practice, 1984) et Fell (Some landslide risk zoning
Jaén, Spain schemes in use in Eastern Australua and their appli-

342 J. Chacón et al.

cation 1992; Landslide risk assessment and acceptable 1. A data input sub-system which collects and/or
risk. Can Geotech J 31:261–272, 1994) sont pris comme processes spatial data derived from existing maps,
référence. On espère que le travail réalisé rendra plus remote sensors, etc.
facile l’utilisation de ces cartes comme outil de pré- 2. A data storage and retrieval sub-system which or-
vention et de limitation des effets des glissements de ganises the spatial data in a form which permits it
terrain. Six cent soixante une articles et ouvrages rel- to be quickly retrieved by the user for subsequent
atifs au sujet traité son référencés en bibliographie, analysis, as well as permitting a rapid and accurate
nombre d’entre eux étant appelés dans le texte de update and corrections to be made to the spatial
l’article. database.
3. A data manipulation and analysis sub-system
Mots clés SIG  Glissements de terrain  which performs a variety of tasks such as changing
Commission N1 de l’AIGI  the form of the data through user-defined aggre-
Cartes de géologie de l’ingénieur gation rules or producing estimates of parameters
and constraints for various space–time optimisa-
tion or simulation models.
Introduction 4. A data reporting sub-system which is capable of
displaying all or part of the original database, as
The first geographical information systems (GIS) were well as manipulated data and the output from
developed 40 years ago by governmental agencies to spatial models, in tabular or map form. The crea-
handle substantial amounts of spatial data in Canada tion of these map displays involves what is called
(Land Inventory CGIS, head manager R.G. Tomlin- digital or computer cartography. This is an area
son) and in the State agencies of Minnesota and New which represents a considerable conceptual
York (USA). In 1970 the first GIS conference, held by extension of traditional cartographic approaches as
the International Geographical Union (IGU), took well as a substantial change in the tools employed
place in Ottawa, with only 40 participants; by the late in creating the cartographic displays.
1970s the IGU inventory comprised more than 600
computer programs with about 80 full GIS systems
This definition excludes a number of computer
(Marble 1984; Tomlinson 1984), as a result of the new
programs that meet these criteria only partially and
availability of microcomputers (Table 1). Since then,
should not be considered as true GIS.
GIS training has been offered in a growing number of
university laboratories all over the world. A review of
GIS history can be found in many text books (see
Burrough 1986; Peuquet and Marble 1990; Worboys Geographical information systems and engineering
1995; Worboys and Duckham 2004, etc.). It is inter- geology maps
esting to define at the outset the basic capabilities or
components of GIS (Marble 1984): During the late 1980s, the increasing availability of new
friendly operating systems and personal computers led
to the use of GIS by an increasing number of
Table 1 Evolution of PC microprocessors and operating systems researchers interested in land-use planning and
since 1970 assessment and hence a progressively wider use of
Year Microprocessor Operating system
different commercial GIS packages. With the excep-
tion of a very few cases, most papers about GIS
1970s 8 bit Micros CP/M applications for mapping in landslide regions were
1980s 8086 DOS versions published from the beginning of the 1990s. In some
80286 MS-DOS cases, the majority of the analyses and map modelling
80386 are fully achieved through a given GIS package but in
1990s 80486 WINDOWS many other cases, the use of GIS is only partial. Some
Pentium OS/DOS essential parts of the analysis and modelling are per-
Pentium II WINDOWS 95 formed using external statistical packages or additional
Pentium III WINDOWS 98 computing tools. In this sense, the landslide mapping
Athlon WINDOWS 2000 GIS methods described below will be considered as
LINUX fully or partially GIS based, depending on how they are
2000s Pentium 4 WINDOWS XP
shown by the authors in their papers.

Engineering geology maps: landslides and GIS 343

Concerning the use of geology maps in civil engi- London area (Woodward 1897) is considered as an
neering practice (Griffiths 2002), it is interesting to early example of geological mapping to fill the gap
note that in many countries these are still not widely between geology and engineering (Culshaw 2004).
used. This observation is mentioned by Fookes (1997) The term ‘‘landslide’’ itself is beset by substantial
referring to British practice, and it may be extended to difficulties derived from the complex and variable
many other developed countries, including when nature of the phenomenon, which is only crudely rep-
mapping in landslide-prone areas is undertaken. resented by most accepted descriptions and classifica-
The landslide inventory map is the first step in any tions (Cruden 1991; Cruden and Varnes 1996;
mitigation program. A questionnaire was proposed by Hutchinson 1988; Varnes 1978; WP/WLI 1990, 1993a,
Brabb (1993) to international experts about the avail- b, 1995, 2001, etc.) because landslides in nature may be
ability of landslide inventory maps (as a percentage of more complicated than is appreciated by current con-
the areas actually mapped) to illustrate the starting ceptual representations. From this follows the impor-
point for the International Decade of Reduction of tance of properly understanding the instability process
Natural Hazards (1991–2000). The answers obtained both from field observations and theoretical consider-
showed a general lack of landslide mapping in Europe, ations.
where most countries had from 0 to 25%, except Given the wide differences in mechanical behaviour
Austria and Hungary. In Asia there are also many of rock falls, slides, flows, lateral spread and complex
countries where only 0–25% of their total surface has movements, particular attention should be paid to
landslide maps, although some countries had a greater inventories where different types of landslides are
coverage (above 25% in Korea, 50–60% in Taiwan and combined in a final analysis to obtain a given landslide
more than 75% for Hong Kong and New Zealand). In map. In addition, information about the size, velocity,
the Americas, only Canada and Costa Rica had more degree of development and activity of the landslides is
than 25%. Few island nations had significant landslide important for the proper assessment of the associated
mapping coverage except Trinidad and Tobago or the hazard and risk.
Windward Islands. Ten years later, in many countries In small-scale regional landslide hazard maps
the Geological Surveys, Environmental Divisions and (1:50,000–1:10,000,000) the result may be acceptable
other governmental agencies are developing GIS- even when various types of landslides are considered
based landslide mapping projects (Agostoni et al. 1998; together, as the required accuracy is low and the map is
Brabb 1993; Brabb et al. 1989; Chau and Lo 2004; Chau generally not used as a predictive tool. In large-scale
et al. 2004a, b; Delmonaco et al. 2004; Giardino et al. landslide maps (1:2,000–1:25,000) different analyses are
2004). In addition, many universities and research required depending on the landslide typology, in order
institutes are offering information and training at very to avoid inaccuracy and lack of real meaning in the
different levels about geological hazards and land- resulting landslide hazard map.
slides, as a result of the widespread use of GIS tools A large body of knowledge about landslide research
and remote sensing techniques. Nevertheless, although is currently available. Some significant contributions
several hundreds of papers about the subject are cur- are referred to below to illustrate a first approach to
rently available in journals, proceedings and books the subject:
published since the late 1980s and there are several
1. Classification and identification: Varnes (1978),
good examples of use by governmental services in
Cotecchia (1978), Hansen (1984), Cruden (1991),
natural hazard assessment, there are still important
Flageollet (1994), Cruden and Varnes (1996), Di-
issues concerning the large number of assessment
kau et al. (1996a, b), Soeters and Van Westen
methods and the lack of regulation of the use of these
(1996), Hungr (1997), WP/WLI (1991, 1993a, b,
maps in many countries.
1994, 1995, 2001), Bromhead (2004), OjedaMon-
cayo et al. (2004), Augusto Filho (2004).
2. Landslide mapping: Záruba and Mencl (1961,
Some basic concepts 1969), Anonymous (1972, 1976), Rybár (1973),
Varnes (1974, 1984), Mahr and Malgot (1978),
The landslide study process, considered as a whole Méneroud (1978), Rodrı́guez Ortiz et al. (1978),
from its preliminary steps to the final development, is Varnes (1984), Wieczorek (1984), WP/WLI (1990),
based on a considerable amount of knowledge after Dearman (1991), Fookes (1997), Soeters and Van
almost a century of research and technological ad- Westen (1996), Guzzetti et al. (2000), Griffith
vances, if the Memoir on the Soils and Subsoils of the (2001, 2002).

344 J. Chacón et al.

3. GIS, aerial and remote sensing survey: Brabb to the instability processes in order to determine zones
(1984), Soeters et al. (1991), Van Westen (1993), of landslide-prone areas without any temporal impli-
Carrara and Guzzetti (1995), Soeters and Van cation. This approach is useful for areas where it is
Westen (1996). difficult to secure enough information concerning the
4. Manuals and textbooks: Schuster and Krizek historical record of landslide events, meteorological
(1978), Brunsden and Prior (1984), Crozier (1986), records of rainfall are lacking or scarce, and the mag-
Dikau et al. (1996a, b), Turner and Schuster nitude/intensity of earthquakes that have triggered
(1996). landslides is unknown. A landslide susceptibility map
5. Landslide hazard and risk assessment: Varnes ranks the slope stability of an area in categories that
(1984), Hutchinson (1992), Chowdhury (1984), range from stable to unstable. Susceptibility maps show
Einstein (1988), Hartlén and Viberg (1988), Leroi where landslides may occur. Many susceptibility maps
(1996), Spiker and Gori (2000, 2003a, b), Chacón use a colour scheme that relates stronger colours (red,
and Corominas (2003), Van Westen (2004). orange and yellow) to unstable and marginally unsta-
6. Landslide and terrain models: Pike (1991), Fookes ble areas and cool colours (blue and green) to more
(1997), Brunsden (1999). stable areas (Spieker and Gori 2000, 2003a, b). Land-
7. Landslide inventories and statistical analysis: Guz- slide susceptibility has also been considered as an
zetti et al. (2002, 2003b), Malamud (2003), Tur- expression of relative hazard (Einstein 1988; Hartlen
cotte and Malamud (2004), Malamud et al. (2004). and Viberg 1988), total landslide density or likely fre-
quency (Evans and King 1998; Evans et al. 1997).
The three basic principles for all zonation studies
proposed by Varnes (1984) based on experience and
knowledge at that time remain useful for GIS-based Landslide hazard map
‘‘Landslide hazard’’ is a particular case of natural
1. The past and present are keys to the future. hazard defined as ‘‘the probability of occurrence within
2. The main conditions that cause landsliding can be a specified period of time and within a given area of a
identified. potentially damaging phenomenon’’ (Varnes 1984).
3. Degrees of hazard can be estimated. From the experience of the USGS, the definition of a
Today, a fourth statement may be added: ‘‘landslide hazard map’’ includes ‘‘zonations showing
annual probability (likelihood) of landslide occurring
4. The risk derived from landslides may also be as- throughout an area’’. Also these authors would con-
sessed and quantified. sider an ‘‘ideal landslide hazard map’’ to have zona-
At present, the main types of maps related to pro- tions showing ‘‘not only the chances that a landslide
grams of landslide mitigation are considered and de- may form at a particular place, but also the chances
fined as follows: that a landslide from farther upslope may strike that
place’’ (Spieker and Gori 2000, 2003a, b).
Landslide inventory map
Landslide risk map
The knowledge of the landslides in a particular area is
expressed by a landslide inventory map which shows ‘‘A landslide risk map shows the expected annual cost
the locations and outlines of landslides. A landslide of landslide damage throughout the affected area and
inventory is a data set that may represent single or combines the probability information from a landslide
multiple events. Small-scale maps show only landslide hazard map with an analysis of all possible conse-
locations, whereas large-scale maps may distinguish quences (property damage, casualties and loss of ser-
landslide sources from deposits, classify different kinds vice’’ (Spieker and Gori 2000). It may be founded on
of landslide and show other pertinent data (Spieker concepts of element at risk, vulnerability, specific and
and Gori 2000, 2003a, b). total risk (Varnes 1984).
Elements at risk are the population, properties,
Landslide susceptibility map economic activities, including public services, etc. in a
given area. These exhibit a given vulnerability defined
The basic concept of landslide susceptibility (Radbruch as the degree of loss when affected by a natural phe-
1970; Dobrovolny 1971; Brabb and Pampeyan 1972, nomenon such as any of type of landslide. From this, it
etc.) includes the spatial distribution of factors related is clear that the given element at risk should present

Engineering geology maps: landslides and GIS 345

different values of vulnerability depending on the Table 3 Landslide probability classification (Fell 1994)
particular type of landsliding threatening its integrity. P Description Annual
In addition, the specific risk for each element at risk
would depend on the probability of occurrence of that 12 Extremely high –1
particular landslide and the corresponding vulnerabil- 8 Very high –0.2
5 High –0.05
ity value. The final total risk, for that landslide event, 3 Medium –0.01
integrates specific risks for the different elements at 2 Low –0.001
risk, as distributed in the threatened area. Therefore,
the general definitions by Varnes (1984) may be useful
for landslide risk mapping. Nevertheless, the difficul- Table 4 Landslide hazard
H Description
ties of preparing these maps multiply the actual prob- classification [Hazard
H = M · P (Fell 1994)] ‡30 Extremely high
lems in developing true landslide hazard maps. This is
‡20, <30 Very high
due to the lack of research on both the technical
‡10, <20 High
assessment of landslide damage and a vulnerability ‡7, <10 Medium
determination for the extremely varied situations that ‡3, <7 Low
may be considered in landsliding processes. ‡2 Very low
The terms ‘‘risk’’ and ‘‘hazard’’ are probably the
core of the topic which, despite the previously men-
tioned concepts articulated by Varnes, are in fact Table 5 Landslide
considered in many different ways. It has been rec- V Description
vulnerability classification
ommended that the term risk assessment should not be for property loss, not loss ‡0.9 Very high
specifically defined but should be left open such that it of life (Fell 1994) ‡0.5, <0.9 High
can encompass different meanings depending on the ‡0.1, <0.5 Medium
‡0.05, <0.01 Low
requirements of the research (Fell 1994). Fell (1992)
<0.05 Very low
pointed out some confusion derives from the hazard
assessment concept and proposed the following terms
for landslide risk assessment (Fell 1994), within a
classification system (Tables 2, 3, 4, 5, 6): Table 6 Landslide specific
Rs Description
risk classification (Fell 1994)
1. Classification of present or potential landslide
‡0.1 Very high
types in the area based on Varnes (1978). ‡0.02, <0.1 High
2. Magnitude (M) or volume in m3 of the source ‡0.005, <0.02 Medium
landslide(s). ‡0.001, <0.005 Low
‡0.0001, <0.001 Very low
3. Probability (P) that a particular landslide occurs
within a given period of time (generally a year).
4. Hazard (H) is a description of the magnitude and
bility is the probability that a particular life (the
probability of occurrence of the landslide(s) in a
element at risk) will be lost given that the landslide
broad sense, H = M · P.
5. Vulnerability (V) is the degree of loss of a given
6. Specific risk (Rs) is defined as probability (P) times
element or set of elements within the area affected
vulnerability (V), Rs = P · V.
by the landslide(s), expressed on a scale of 0 (no
7. Element at risk (E) is all the components of the
damage) to 1 (total loss). For loss of life, vulnera-
territory as in Varnes (1978).
8. Total risk (Rt) is the product of specific risk (Rs)
Table 2 Landslide magnitude classification (Fell 1994) times the element at risk (E) so Rt = S (E · P ·
M Description Volume (m3)

7 Extremely large >5,000,000

The introduction by Fell (1994) of the concept of
6 Very large >1,000,000, <5,000,000
5 Medium-large >250,000, <1,000,000 probability (P) to avoid the use of hazard as meaning
4 Medium > 50,000, <250,000 chance or probability, and reserve the term hazard (H)
3 Small >5,000, <50,000 in its sense of danger (H = M · P), is very useful
2 Very small >500, <5,000
because it clarifies the term and avoids problems with
1 Extremely small <500
the translations of the English terms ‘‘hazard’’ and

346 J. Chacón et al.

‘‘risk’’ into other languages. Fell (1994) also introduced Considering the previously mentioned concepts of
the concept of ‘‘acceptable risk’’ from landsliding. landslide inventory and susceptibility maps, and of
Based on personal experience and previous papers hazard and risk, many published landslide maps do not
on the subject, he considered that the public may ac- exactly fit these criteria because of their origins in
cept relatively high risks for natural landslides as in- different traditions, conceptual approaches or practical
cluded in the broad concept of ‘‘voluntary risks’’. treatments of the problem. There are so-called land-
Although admitting the need for further research to slide hazard maps that are closer to susceptibility maps,
obtain an increase in information available, he con- and also some ‘‘slope stability maps’’ that are very
cluded that for property damage the community may similar to the landslide susceptibility maps. Regarding
accept an annual specific risk of the order of 10–2, and the term risk, its meaning varies with languages and its
that for natural landslides they may accept an annual use may be confusing, depending on the translations.
specific risk of loss of life of 10–3 (consistent with vol- Therefore the present perspective of the matter shows,
untary risk in the workplace). to some extent, a confused situation; derived partly
Regarding the risks from man-made slope stability from the use of similar terms/concepts with slight yet
structures, considered as ‘‘involuntary risks’’, Fell important differences in different countries and partly
(1994) indicated that lower rates are demanded by the from different traditions in the approach to the subject.
public. For instance, a dam—viewed as a slope stability In order to introduce a general review of landslide
problem—would be expected by the public to generate mapping techniques with the emphasis on GIS ap-
a risk of loss of life not greater than 10–5 to 10–6. proaches, three main groups of maps which have
Another interesting contribution of Fell (1994) was emerged over the last 50 years have been projected
the proposal of three different vulnerabilities of the into GIS applications. The maps deal with:
elements of the territory. Fell (1994) followed Morgan
1. Spatial incidence of landslides.
et al. (1992) to introduce the vulnerability equation
2. Spatial–temporal incidence and forecasting of
V ¼ VðSÞ þ VðTÞ þ VðLÞ landslides.
3. Consequences of landslides.
V(S) is the spatial vulnerability which means that an
element will be affected by the landslide given that the
landslide occurs, and therefore it represents the vul- Maps of spatial incidence of landslides
nerability derived from the spatial position of the ele-
ment at risk. These are maps showing zones of similar relative
V(T) is the temporal vulnerability which expresses a amounts of landsliding or of similar conditions for
likelihood of temporal impact, taking into account landslide processes, without formal temporal forecasting
temporal changes of the element at risk. A house, for implications. These have been expressed over time in
instance, may or may not be occupied, depending on very different ways, e.g. zonations of amounts of land-
the time of impact. slides, landslide deposits, slope instability, slope stability
V(L) is the life vulnerability which expresses the conditions, landslide susceptibility, landslide hazard,
likelihood of loss of life of an individual occupant in landslide susceptibility hazard, slope vulnerability, etc.
the impacted element, or the proportion of the value of From the late 1960s, a number of maps were made in
the impacted element which is lost. the United States showing slope stability conditions
These conceptual tools are valuable for landslide (Blanc and Cleveland 1968), the incidence of landslides
risk assessment and also very useful for the develop- expressed by relative amount of landslide deposits
ment of GIS landslide risk maps which in most cases (Radbruch-Hall 1970; Radbruch-Hall and Crowther
require very detailed scales, as shown below. 1973), landslide deposits (Brabb and Pampeyan 1972)
Einstein (1988) proposed the terms danger, hazard and qualitative landslide susceptibility (Dobrovolny
and risk. Danger is a qualitative term resulting from 1971; Scott 1972; Davies 1974a, j; Pomeroy 1974, etc.).
the mechanical or geometrical features of the natural Landslide susceptibility is a measure of how prone
phenomena without any type of forecasting. He also land units are to landsliding, and was quantitatively
suggested that landslide hazard could be equated to approached by Brabb et al. (1972). The term describes
landslide susceptibility, which is an interesting step in a broad way the slope stability condition of a par-
towards qualitative assessment of temporal probabili- ticular region, which may be greatly increased when
ties from a map of spatial zonation of landslide sus- ‘‘new cuts and fills and other activities of man...alter
ceptibility. the natural topographical and hydrologic conditions...’’

Engineering geology maps: landslides and GIS 347

(Varnes 1984). This concept has been adopted in the As an example, the landslide map of California (at a
last few decades by many authors in various papers and scale 1:1,000,000) was made by Radbruch and Crow-
projects about landslide maps, including different GIS ther (1973) with units indicating ‘‘...only the estimated
approaches considering both static and dynamic con- relative amounts of area covered by landslides for each
ditions. The susceptibility assessment was firstly based map unit as well as can be determined within the
on field reconnaissance of instability factors producing limitations of the present study’’. The authors indicate
a given susceptibility level for a particular area or field that ‘‘no quantitative measurements were made and
zone, with the landslides inventory being a basic step many areas that were neither observed in the field nor
towards analysis and mapping. The method drew on covered by published or unpublished data were as-
the subjective expertise of each author. The basic signed numbers on the basis of the general aspect of
analysis was a field geology-based recognition of similar geologic units.’’ The general criteria for the
instability factors around the observed landslides in rating were related first to slope angle below 5 and
order to make a zonation of the presence of these rainfall of less than 10 in. (25.4 cm) with very little
factors within the susceptibility zones. Indications evidence of landsliding (unit number 1) and, at the
about levels of landslide activity were also included opposite extreme, to areas heavily covered by large
(Scott 1972). Similar qualitative landslide incidence amount of landslides, as in most of the Franciscan
maps have been made in different countries using the terrain in the northern Coast Ranges (unit 6). Also the
terms zones exposed to landslide risks or slope insta- correlation between rainfall and landslide was ap-
bility, etc. (ZERMOS program by French Laboratoire proached by Guidicini and Iwasa (1977).
de Ponts et Chaussés, Paris: Antoine 1977; Humbert Nilsen and Wrigth (1979) in a 1:125,000 landslide
1977; Landry 1979; Méneroud and Calvino 1976; map of the San Francisco Bay region distinguished
Méneroud 1978, etc.; Mahr and Malgot 1978 in Slo- slope angle units of < 5, 5–15 and > 15, and lith-
vakia; Kienholtz 1978 in Switzerland, Rodrı́guez Ortiz ological groups of no landslide deposits, susceptible
et al. 1978; Hinojosa and Leon 1978 in Spain, etc.). bedrock, susceptible superficial deposits and landslide
An example of the main qualitative susceptibility deposits. Combining these two criteria of slope angle
maps published by the USGS (Radbruch 1970; Scott and lithological groups they classified the region into
1972; Davies 1974; Pomeroy 1974, etc.) is a map six zones: (1) stable, (2) generally stable, (3) moder-
showing landslide areas susceptible to landsliding in ately stable, (4) moderately unstable, (5) unstable.
the Morrison Quadrangle, Jefferson County, Colorado, Zone 1A was defined as an area ‘‘subject to liquefac-
Scott (1972) which distinguished four zones: tion’’.
These maps, at different scales, were oriented to-
Landslide (earth flow) deposits of at least three
ward the classification of land units based on the evi-
generations on steep slopes—younger landslides have
dence of landsliding. As there was no attempt at
formed out of older landslides on Green Mountain
temporal forecasting, from the point of view of Varnes
showing that older slides are not necessarily stable.
(1978) they would be considered closer to landslide
Active landslide—slides were moving in 1971.
inventories than to landslide hazard maps. In addition,
Potential rock fall—with arrows showing directions of
the use of the term ‘‘susceptible’’ to indicate the degree
movement. Only those slopes that pose a potential
of instability relates these maps to susceptibility maps
rock fall hazard to existing highways or structures are
in the sense developed by Brabb et al. (1972).
shown. Other steep slopes will pose a rock fall hazard
Other hazard and risk maps have been based on
in the future.
numerically rated or weighted slope and geological
Area susceptible to sliding—ground that might slide if
factors with geotechnical data (Stevenson 1977). Other
dug into or watered too much. Dip slopes, such as the
significant contributions were linear risk maps of roads
east face of the Dakota hogback, are unstable if dug
(Méneroud 1978) and geotechnical stability maps
into; sliding slabs of sandstone along the Alameda
which rate soil and rock mechanics parameters such as
Parkway cause a continuous removal problem.
cohesion, friction angle or rock massif discontinuities
Also semi-quantitative susceptibility, hazard or (Vecchia 1978). They generally propose landslide risk
slope instability maps based on analysis of slope angles, zonations (Stevenson 1977; Méneroud 1978; Méneroud
lithology and relative amounts of landslip material and Olivier 1978) or a terrain index showing the sta-
have been published (Blanc and Cleveland 1968; bility of hillsides (Vecchia 1978). The first two ap-
Bowman 1972; Radbruch and Crowther 1973; proaches used the term ‘‘risk’’ in a sense that could be
Dobrovolny and Schmoll 1974; Nilsen and Brabb 1977; considered similar to landslide susceptibility, although
Nilsen and Wrigth 1979). the method of Stevenson (1977) included a land use

348 J. Chacón et al.

factor rated from 1 for woodland to 1.25 for land discussed in later works (Wright and Nilsen 1974;
cleared or built-on with special precautions, and 1.5 Wright et al. 1974; Pomeroy 1978; DeGraff and Canutti
(maximum) for land built-on without special precau- 1988; Collins 1987; DeGraff 1985; DeGraff 1987) and
tions. Varnes (1984) refers to Vecchia’s (1978) use of brought up to date for microcomputers and GIS for
criteria which reflect geomechanical rock mass classi- landslide spatial incidence by Bulut et al. (2000) and
fications. As the terrain index is also intended to show Valadäo et al. (2002) and for the assessment of land-
a quantitative rating of stability, it is closer to the slide spatial–temporal incidence by Coe et al. (2000).
concept of susceptibility than hazard or risk. The technique was based on a landslide inventory at a
Finally, Brabb et al. (1972) introduced a semi- 1:24,000 scale (Campbell 1973) by estimating the sur-
quantitative method consisting of a bivariate analysis face covered by landslide deposits using a number of
of landslide area percentages in slope angle intervals, contiguous circles displayed on a grid, calculating the
expressed by relative susceptibility numbers, from percentage of the surface area covered by each circle
which a susceptibility zonation was obtained. The and contouring equal percentage intervals.
susceptibility classes were I (0–1%), II (2–8%), III (9– The landslide isopleth or density contour technique
25%); IV (26–42%); V (43–53%) and VI (54–70%) was adopted to generalise and quantify the areal dis-
and L (landslide deposits, 100%). Table 7 shows the tribution of landslide deposits in a form that would
main steps of the method. combine more easily with other data when preparing
This pioneering paper offered a formal definition of derived maps (Varnes 1978). A discussion on the reli-
landslide susceptibility as an indication of how prone to ability of this method is given in Bulut et al. (2000) for
landsliding a land unit may be. It also offered a method the area of Findikli (Rize, Turkey). In 1983, these au-
to classify terrain units with a relative susceptibility thors prepared an isopleth map with three zones (<1,
number based on geological unit, slope angle and per- 1–10 and >10% landslide deposits). Some 12 years la-
centage of landslide in the unit, which was difficult to ter they made another isopleth map of the same region,
apply at that time. Twenty years later, with the power of from which they established that the new landslides
the computer and GIS, this type of analysis is easy to were concentrated in the zones with isopleth values
perform and is the foundation of many GIS develop- above 10%. They concluded that, given the high cost
ments of landslide susceptibility mapping. For instance, and time requirements of field research compared to a
Parise (2001) studied a small region (30 km2) of the detailed landslide inventory, the 1:25,000 scale is real-
Sele river (South Apennines, Italy) at a 1:20,000 scale istic for producing hazard and risk maps.
using a landslide inventory that included information Valadäo et al. (2002) made a GIS-based density
about particular types of landslide activity in given map of Sao Miguel Island in the Azores (Portugal)
areas. He discussed the concept and use of the landslide based on aerial photographs and field surveys with
inventory map, landslide activity, landslide suscepti- morphological criteria for the identification of land-
bility (relative hazard) and landslide vulnerability. He slides. A pioneering paper about using aerials photo-
referred to Hutchinson (1992) to indicate that the graphs in landslide analysis and susceptibility mapping
simplest way to obtain a landslide susceptibility map is is due to Alfoldi (1974).
by assessing the percentage of the area of each litho- With the computer revolution, Lessing et al. (1976) in
stratigraphical unit that is occupied by landslides and to West Virginia (USA), Newman et al. (1978) in the San
rank those units generally on that basis. Francisco Bay region and Carrara et al. (1977, 1978) in
Another approach to mapping landslides involves the Ferro basin (Calabria, Italy), introduced computer
landslide density or isopleth maps. Campbell (1973) techniques to analyse landsliding factors in order to
presented a nominally objective method for a statistical obtain what they called slide-prone areas, landslide
assessment of regional landslide distribution based on susceptibility or landslide hazard zonations, all of which
Schmidt and Mac Cannel (1955), which was used and lacked any temporal forecasting. The widespread
Table 7 Methodology for the susceptibility assessment for the San Mateo County (California, USA, Brabb et al. 1978)
1. The surface extent failed by landslide is measured in every geological formation considered in the region
2. Relative susceptibility numbers (RSN) are defined depending on the percentage of land failed by landsliding
% Failed area 0–1 2–8 9–25 26–42 43–53 54–70 100
3. The different geological formations are classified into RSN
4. A slope percentage map of the region is made with the intervals 0–5, 5–15, 15–30, 30–50, 50–70 and >70%
5. Every slope percentage unit in the different geological formations is classified by RSN following point 2
6. A landslide susceptibility map is obtained showing all the RSN units for the different geological and also the landslides inventory (L)

Engineering geology maps: landslides and GIS 349

availability of computing power allowed statistically 25 were statistically analysed in order to establish their
supported landsliding zonations to be obtained, e.g. inter-relationships. The objectives were to statistically
landslide susceptibility using discriminate factors (Si- define slope instability by multivariate analysis and,
mons et al. 1978) and landslide hazard using bivariate using a computer, to create a slope instability hazard
(Neulands 1976) or multivariate analysis (Carrara 1983). map and maps to relate the presence of man-made
Over the last 35 years, many other papers have used structures and landslide hazard. The level of landslide
statistical bivariate or multivariate techniques to analyse hazard, although derived using statistical techniques,
the relationships between the factors influencing spatial was still an expression of the degree of slope instability
landsliding and obtained probabilistic map zonations but without any temporal forecasting. Also Baeza
which differ from the maps based on deterministically (1994) largely contributed to multivariate analysis and
defined factors. The deterministic and probabilistic ap- mapping of the incidence of shallow landslides in the
proaches are coincident in that they have a spatial Pyrenees (Spain) using a statistical computer package.
meaning only and lack temporal or historical data. Some authors considered it important to map not
Neulands (1976) selected 250 stable and unstable only susceptibility zonations but also levels of exposure
slopes in Germany and sampled the different litho- to landslide movements as an intermediate step be-
logical units in each slope with boreholes. He identified tween susceptibility and hazard maps (Figs. 1, 2)
31 predictor variables including morphometric vari- (Chacón and Irigaray 1992, 1999a, b; Chacón et al.
ables (slope gradient, exposition and slope length); 1992g, 1993a, b, 1994a, b, c, 1996c).
foundation variables (depth to roots and depth of Einstein (1988) suggested the temporal projection of
weathered horizon); distance from the watershed to a susceptibility mapping based on higher probabilities of
control point; soil mechanics properties (liquid limit, new landslides occurring within higher susceptibility
plasticity, soil saturation, water content for saturation zones. Recent validation of a susceptibility map (Irig-
of upper and lower layers); dryness of soil conditions aray et al. 1999, 2006) confirmed this view, when 125
(plastic limit, plasticity index and shrinkage index); new landslides occurred after heavy rainfalls in 1997 in
soil-suction characteristics distinguishing gradients the Iznájar river dam area (Granada, Spain) where a
from the upper and lower layer to every pore or suc- susceptibility map had been completed in 1994 (Iriga-
tion domain with ten variables; size and structure of ray 1995) using an inventory of 833 older landslides.
the materials (stratified structure of the upper and Some 61.9% of the 1997 landslides plotted in the very
lower layers); upper and lower bed boundaries; clay high susceptibility zone and 23.1% in the high sus-
content of the upper and lower layers; and degree of ceptibility zone of the 1995 map (Figs. 2, 3). A similar
firmness and density. The model was based on a ran- practical validation was obtained for a susceptibility
domly selected 150 of the 250 slopes; the remaining 100 map of the southwestern Sierra Nevada (Spain) slopes
slopes being used to test the model. The variables were by El Hamdouni (2001) (Fig. 4) or in Torre Vedras
tested for normal distribution by a 5% level Kol- (Portugal) by Garcia and Zêzere 2004.
mogorow–Smirnov Test. The correlation between the A review of zonation methods proposed prior to the
31 variables was analysed by discriminant analysis and advent of GIS techniques is given in Varnes (1984).
Euclid distance procedures. The model is time invari- The present paper therefore concentrates on GIS
ant and therefore unable to predict when a slip will applications.
take place but is useful to establish whether a slope is
likely to slip or not. The research was original in its
wide basis of physical and mechanical soil properties,
although restricted to soil materials other than sands.
One of the really significant contributions to landslide
research comes from the pioneering work of Carrara
and Merenda (1976), Carrara (1983) and Carrara et al.
(1977, 1978). Varnes (1984) described the contributions
of Carrara et al. (1978), on the landslides in the basin of Reach of landslides
the Calabria–Lucania border, as ‘‘one of the more ad-
vanced and accessible state-of-the-art analyses of land Fig. 1 Simple sketch of the section of a valley with horizontal
attributes for production of landslide hazard maps, plot of landslide susceptibility zones (LSZ: I low, II moderate, III
high) and pathway of landslide through these zones. The
utilising computer processing’’. The study area of landslide hazard in the low susceptibility zone will depend on
600 km2 was divided into 200 · 200 m cells, with 33 the return period and the magnitude of landslides from zones
basic terrain attributes stored in the computer of which with higher susceptibility

350 J. Chacón et al.

Fig. 2 Practical verification

of a susceptibility map
obtained by the GIS matrix
approach (Irigaray 1995)
showing new landslides
triggered by rainfall in winter
1996 and spring 1997 (Irigaray
et al. 1999). Inventories of
800 landslides mapped by
1994 (shadowed) and 125 new

inventory maps, stereoscopic interpretation of 1:20,000

Relative freq. (%)

80 61,9
scale panchromatic aerial photographs and field map-
ping of new evidence. Zones of stable, relatively stable
40 23,1
and unstable areas were differentiated; the latter cov-
20 10,1
2,8 2,1 ering 10% of the study region and mainly in Palaeo-
0 gene flysch and Mesozoic carbonate rock formations.
Evans et al. (1997) and Evans and King (1998) made
SUSCEPTIBILITY CLASSES an excellent landslide study of terrain in Hong Kong
Fig. 3 Histogram of percentages of 125 new landslides against
threatened by different types of shallow landslides,
previously mapped landslide susceptibility zones (modified from particularly debris flow and avalanche. They derived a
Irigaray et al. 1999) landslide hazard map, defining susceptibility on the basis
of landslide density or frequency. Also in urban areas of
Zonations based on geological or geomorphological Hong Kong Island Franks et al. (1998) prepared ten
units or regions detailed 1:1000 thematic maps in a GIS application to
slope stability assessment based on geological similarity
A relative susceptibility map of 1,100 km2 in the West with two areas threatened by fatal landslides.
Carpathian mountains of the Tatras region (Slovak Lee et al. (2002a, b, c), in a study of the Janghung
Republic) was prepared by Kovácik and Paudits (1998) area of South Korea, created a landslide susceptibility
based on geological, geomorphological and landslide index (LSI) taking into account the frequency of

Engineering geology maps: landslides and GIS 351

Susceptibility map

Debri sfl ows

Susceptibility map
Lecrin valley; Southwestern Sierra Nevada, Granada, Spain
Earth and mud flows
Susceptibility map
Susceptibility map

Typologies Susceptibility class

Very Low Moderate High Very

low high
Slides 1,36% 1,42% 9,4% 25,67% 62,15%

Earth flows 0,03% 6,78% 7,57% 18,93% 66,69%

Debris flows 0,2% 4,13% 10,82% 26,2% 58,65%

Rockfall 0,43% 4,93% 25,9% 27.62% 41,12%

Complex landslides 0,09% 3,72% 10,94% 28,57% 56,68%

All inventory 2,93% 3,66% 11,7% 26% 55,8%

Grado de ajuste de las zonas de ruptura (%)

Flujos de tierra

-> 68 % of the new landslides plotted in the 60

Corrientes de derrubios

susceptibility classes high and very high and Desprendimientos

7 % only were in low and very low classes 50 Movimientos complejos

Ruptura total


-A fairly high number of rockfalls plotted in 30

the moderate susceptibility class owing to a large
MDT´s pixel size for small slopes. 20


Muy baja Baja Moderada Alta Muyalta
Clases de susceptibilidad

Fig. 4 Sixty-nine new landslides triggered by rainfall in 1996 and 1997 with the susceptibility zones of maps previously available (El
Hamdouni 2001)

352 J. Chacón et al.

landslides related to slope aspect and slope angle. The Moreiras (2004) proposed landslide incidence or
analysis was made by a bifactorial bivariate statistical susceptibility (Moreiras 2005) zonation for a 1,600 km2
method. area west of Mendoza city, in the Cordillera Frontal
Fall and Azzam (1998) used GIS to prepare a map Ranges and Precordillera of Argentina, based on air-
indicating natural risk in the coastal areas of Dakar, photo interpretation, digital analysis of satellite spot
Senegal. Geological, hydrogeological and geotechnical and Landsat images and field control. They presented
surveys at a scale of 1:500, and topographical maps the percentage of the area covered by landslide
from 1953, 1961, 1977 and 1981 at scales of 1:1,000 to deposits in an overlapping 200 · 200 m grid identifying
1:5,000 were all digitised and a GIS analysis was made four categories of incidence: very high (>50%), high
in Arc/Info and Arc View (ESRI). Two different dig- (15–50%), moderate (1.5–15%) and low (<1.5%). The
ital elevation models (DEM) from 1953 and 1981 were lithological groups are mainly represented by (1)
compared in order to analyse the evolution of relief igneous rocks, (2) Palaeozoic (3) and sedimentary
related to coastal landsliding and erosion. After iden- rocks with Tertiary sedimentary deposits and Triassic
tifying the lithological units and areas more affected by volcanics. Landslides triggered by summer rainstorms
landslides, GIS layers were superimposed and analysed predominated but the authors also comment on other
to obtain a natural risk map based on three groups of factors associated with landsliding, including earth-
instability factors: hydrogeology, coastal erosion and quakes and the presence of active and inactive land-
geotechnical parameters. This map revealed six zones slides. The degrees of relative susceptibility were
of coastal slope dynamics, with a zone affected by assigned from GIS analysis of every 200 · 200 m unit
instability processes and symbols showing different taking into account both lithology and slope angle and
risks as active scarps and landslides, earth flows, rock a landslide inventory. Their table of conditions for
fall, etc. As in ZERMOS mapping, they used the term qualitative assessment of relative susceptibility
‘‘natural risk’’ to mean natural hazard, with no attempt (Moreiras 2005) is shown in Table 8.
made at temporal forecasting or relating damage to Wachal and Hudak (2000) used GIS techniques to
loss assessment. Also another risk assessment ap- assess landsliding in a 1,500–2,000 km2 area in Travis
proaches were proposed by Kawakami and Saito County (USA), based on four factors: slope angle,
(1984), Lee et al. (2001b). The presence or absence of geology, vegetation and distance to faults. Four classes
instability processes and hazard was proposed as a tool of relative susceptibility were derived weighting these
for better land-use planning of a coastal area affected factors (0–1) according to their contribution to insta-
by rapid urban development. Also interesting contri- bility processes. The map resolution was about
butions concerning land-use planning and landslide 30 · 30 m. Also landslide units were introduced in
management are found in Brabb (1987), Erley and geomophological mapping in the Dolomites, Italy, by
Köckelman (1981), HMSO (1996), Lee et al. (1987), Pasuto and Soldati (1999).
Lekkas et al. (1995, 1998), Marker (1998). A very interesting new GIS methodology was pro-
Computer or GIS applications to the analysis of slope posed by Parise and Jibson (2000) to obtain a landslide
erosional features which are closely related to landslide seismic susceptibility rating. An inventory of landslides
instability or susceptibility are presented by Thornes that occurred during the Northridge earthquake (1994,
and Alcántara- Ayala (1998), Sfar Felfoul et al. (1999), M: 6,7, California, USA) in the Santa Susana quad-
Marchi and Dalla Fontana (2000), Fransen et al. (2001), rangle was made. Distances to the epicentre fault zone
Rafaelli et al. (2001), Martı́nez-Casasnovas (2003). and data about the dynamic intensity were expressed

Table 8 Factors conditions

Slope Lithological Landslide Landslide Susceptibility
for relative susceptibility
angle () group presence activity
assessment (Moreiras 2005)
>30 1 – – High
>30 2, 3 Yes Inactive High
>30 2, 3 – – Moderate
>15 1, 2, 3 Yes Active High
>15 1 Yes Inactive High
15–30 1 – – Moderate
15–30 2, 3 Yes Inactive Moderate
15–30 2, 3 – – Low
<15 1, 2, 3 Yes Active Moderate
<15 1, 2, 3 Yes Inactive Low
<15 1, 2, 3 – – Very low

Engineering geology maps: landslides and GIS 353

as Arias intensities (Arias 1970). These were consid- base maps were at scales of between 1:4,000 and
ered as a basis for a LSI (the ratio in % of the area 1:25,000. The area was zoned into 14 land-use suit-
covered by landslides in each geological unit to the ability classes incorporating hazard, vulnerability and
total area of the outcrops of that unit) and landslide risk parameters. Vulnerability (V) was defined as ‘‘the
frequency index (number of landslide per km2). A intrinsic predisposition of any element to be at risk of a
zonation of four relative susceptibility classes was ob- mental or economic loss upon the occurrence of a
tained with a resolution of 10 · 10 m at a scale of hazardous event of intensity i’’. It included ecosystem
1:24,000: very high (>2.5% landslide area or >30 ls/ sensitivity, economic vulnerability and social structure
km2), high (1.0–2.5% landslide area or 10–30 ls/km2), vulnerability. Risk (R) was defined as the probability
moderate (0.5–1.0% landslide area or 3–10 ls/km2) and that a loss affecting an element ‘‘e’’ would occur as a
low (<0.5% landslide area and <3 ls/km2). consequence of an event of intensity equal to or
Ayala-Carcedo et al. (2003) analysed a rock fall front greater than ‘‘i’’. Risk was thus a function of geological
in the Sierra de la Cabrera (Madrid, Spain) by a heu- hazard and vulnerability. These definitions differ from
ristic approach using Arc Info (ESRI). The analysis those proposed by Varnes (1984) and Fell (1992, 1994).
considered topographical and field data from an inven- Debris flow hazard susceptibility, at a scale 1:24,000,
tory of fallen blocks, in terms of reach angle (angle of a was derived from an algorithm which modelled the
line taken from the block scar to its final position) and influence of factors such as slope angle (slopedf); slope
run-out distance (linear distance from the base of the orientation (aspect); unified soil classification, clay con-
rock fall front to the final block position). The resulting tent and its geotechnical or erosive properties in the
maps of maximum run-out, absolute maximum run-out debris (usc-casag; shrwell; erosK); availability of
and minimum reach angle were plotted at a scale unconsolidated debris (sgmdf); vegetation (veg); hydro-
1:5,000. From a GIS analysis and modelling of these logic characteristic of soils (hgdf); low frequency, high
data a dynamic susceptibility map was obtained showing intensity rainfalls (isohaa); land-use features (lusess);
four zones: very high susceptibility (direct exposure, use distance to stream network reclassified by segments or-
not recommended), high susceptibility (use not recom- der (wsbuf); cross tabulation and reclassification of
mended, exposure to rebound pathways), medium sus- superficial geology-debris flow maps with historical re-
ceptibility (energy <4,700 kJ, use with scarp stabilisation cords (femahist); and isohyets of average annual pre-
and double dynamic fence), low susceptibility equiva- cipitation (isohaa). The proposed algorithm was:
lent to the safety zone of other maps (use with single
fence of 2,350 kJ or storage trench). Also GIS rockfall Sdf ¼ slopedf  ðaspect  7 þ usc-casag  4 þ sgmdf
hazard assessment and analysis was accomplished by  9 þ veg  8 þ hgdf  5 þ shrwell  2 þ erosK
Baillifard et al. (2004), Menéndez-Duarte and Marquı́-  7 þ lusess  3 þ wsbuf  8 þ femahist
nez (2002) while GIS avalanche hazard was assessed by  10 þ isohaa  4Þ=67
Barbolini et al. (2002), Brabec et al. (2001), Evans et al.
(2001), McClung (2002a, b) and case studies on debris which integrates a first variable of slope angle (slopedf)
fall GIS mapping by Bathurst et al. (2003) , He et al. multiplied by the summation of the products of 11
(2003), Hofmeister and Miller (2003), Nakagawa and different factor variables and weighting numbers.
Takahashi (1997). Seismic and climatic triggering of debris flows was
modelled by an algorithm which expressed weighted
Zonations based on expert identification, weighting relationships with (1) isoseismals (a reclassification or
factors and certainty analysis cross tabulation of magnitudes 4 and 5 epicentres,
faults and geological units likely to amplify seismic
One of the first papers in the United States on a wholly waves) and (2) probable maximum precipitation
GIS assessment of landslide susceptibility, hazard and (PMP), with the equation:
risk (Mejı́a-Navarro et al. 1994) used weighted factors
in algorithms, relating debris flow susceptibility and Trigger  ps ¼ ðisoseismal  3 þ PMP  5Þ=8:
determinant factors. Made in Arc/Info (ESRI) and
GRASS GIS, the research was a pilot project to test The debris flow hazard algorithm (Hdf = Sdf ·
the usefulness of GIS in an integrated planning deci- Trigger-ps) results from the product of Sdf and Trig-
sion support model evaluating different geological ger-ps, which was then normalised to a scale of 1–10.
hazards (H—subsidence, rock fall, debris flows Daily precipitation prior to and during the July 1977
and flows) in an area of 6,500 ha around the city of debris flow event was analysed. From the analysis of
Glenwood Springs, Garfield County, Colorado. The regional rainfall data, the maximum rainfall in a 1-h

354 J. Chacón et al.

period to be expected in the town in a 100-year period geomorphologist. One of the main characteristics used
was established as 40.1 mm. As the catastrophic 1977 to determine the level of hazard presented by a par-
debris flow in Glenwood Spring occurred during a ticular landslide unit was the activity of denudation
precipitation intensity with a 50-year return period, processes, classified into three categories (active, par-
Mejı́a-Navarro et al. (1994) assigned an annual prob- tially active and inactive) based on direct observation
ability of 2% to such flows. in the field. A hazard class was assigned to each poly-
Pachauri and Pant (1992) and Pachauri et al. (1998) gon in the attribute table. The most important char-
published 1:50,000 maps made without GIS support acteristics taken into account to determine the degree
using topographical bases to derive landslide suscepti- of hazard in each unit were evidence of recent activity
bility. Landslide inventory maps were also used to- (such as bare scarps, cracks, fresh rock fall deposits,
gether with maps of nine factors considered to etc.), geomorphological setting of the unit, type and
influence the observed landslides. The final maps were condition of the materials, slope angle and proximity to
created by overlaying the weighted information. adjacent at-risk units. Historical records, the presence
Another example of a weighting factor procedure of damaged infrastructure, the presence of stabilisation
was used by Temesgen et al. (2001) in a study of the works and information from the literature were also
Wondogenet area in the eastern margin of the Ethio- taken into account.
pian rift in a raster GIS. Estimates were made of the On the basis of these criteria, each polygon was
frequencies of landslide occurrence considering lithol- evaluated and assigned one of four hazard classes: very
ogy, drainage network, geology, slope angle, slope as- low hazard (no destructive phenomena expected to
pect and vegetation cover. Priority weightings were occur in the foreseeable future); low hazard (no
assigned on the basis of observed landslide densities for destructive phenomena are expected to occur in the
each class and the resultant maps were overlain to foreseeable future, assuming that land use remains the
produce susceptibility maps. From an analysis of the same—inadequate construction of infrastructure or
relationships between the landslide inventory and the buildings may lead to problems); moderate hazard (a
derived maps, a further reclassification was under- moderate probability that destructive phenomena
taken. The final integration was made using pixel could damage infrastructure or buildings in the fore-
attributes, algebraic calculations and arithmetic means. seeable future, although such damage would be ex-
The landslide hazard map was derived from the inte- pected to be localised and could be prevented by
gration of all the susceptibility maps; the value of each relatively simple and inexpensive stabilisation mea-
grid cell in the overlays being summed and divided by sures) and high hazard (a high probability that
the total number of event-controlling parameters using destructive phenomena will occur within the foresee-
the following formula: able future, such that construction of new infrastruc-
ture or buildings is not advisable until a detailed study
Risk map ¼ ½ðI1=max slopeÞ þ ð1  ABSð270  I2Þ=270Þ has been undertaken).
In view of the temporal references, this is an
þ ððI3 þ 1Þ=2Þ þ ðI4=maxð14ÞÞ
example of a qualitative landslide hazard map. It can
þ ðI5=maxðI5ÞÞ þ ðI6=maxðI6ÞÞ=6 be related to a landslide susceptibility map insofar as
when the susceptibility class increases, the possibility of
where I1, I2, I3, I4, I5, I6 are slope angle, slope aspect, the generation of new landslides also increases [see
vegetation biomass, geological structures, watercourses Einstein (1988) and the verification of a landslide sus-
and lithology-related landslide risk susceptibility maps, ceptibility map in a study area of the Betic Cordillera
respectively. reported by Irigaray et al. (1999)].
Barredo et al. (2000) undertook research in the Atkinson and Massari (1998) studied a region of the
Barrack de Trojan (Grand Canary Island, Spain), Apennines in Central Italy using a 1:10,000 scale map
where 28 significant landslides were recorded. They divided into a grid of 20 · 20 m squares. They devel-
adopted an heuristic or expert-driven approach in oped a linear hierarchy model (generalised linear
which a geomorphological expert decided on the type modelling, GLM), similar to multiple regression mod-
and degree of hazard for each area, using either direct els but using continuous variables because of the need
or indirect hazard mapping. The advantage of this to transform qualitative variables for the analysis of
method is that each individual polygon outlined on the factors and their relationships to landslides. GLM is a
map can be evaluated separately, based on its unique powerful quantitative technique which allows variables
set of conditions. It is, however, a time-consuming to be either continuous or categorical (ordinal or
method that depends largely on the expertise of the nominal), or any combination of both types. Hence it

Engineering geology maps: landslides and GIS 355

was possible to model the terrain conditions which ceptibility map considerably. The authors concluded
would have existed prior to the recorded landslides. that the ‘‘actual generation of the susceptibility maps
The factors considered were geology, slope orientation, are best done by knowledge-driven methods, such as
slope angle, vegetation, soil thickness, horizontal and multiclass index overlaying or fuzzy logic methods’’.
vertical curvature, local relief and roughness. The Ayalew et al. (2004) mapped the Tsugawa area of
inventory was used first to consider all the landslides the Agano River, Japan, plotting 791 landslide events
and then active movements only. A qualitative vali- in the 407 km2 area at a scale of 1:20,000 with a pixel
dation of the method was also included. resolution of 10 · 10 m. Following layering and the
Naagarajan et al. (2000) researched some 500 land- assignment of six weighted factors using the linear
slides (mainly debris flows and rock falls) within an combination method, a GIS model was developed
area of about 200 km2 in the Konkan region on the which took account of both landslide frequencies and
western coast of India. They used a statistical treat- expert knowledge of the factors that influence slope
ment (but not a GIS) for weighting and superimposing instability in the area.
maps of 11 different factors (vegetation, drainage IDRISI was used by Ayalew and Yamagishi (2005)
network density, slope angle, relief, layering, disconti- to design a landslide susceptibility map of a 105 km2
nuities, weathering, soil types, rainfall and depth to the area in the Kakuda-Yahiko Mountains of Japan by the
soil/rock boundary). logical regression method combined with bivariate
Van Westen et al. (2003) evaluated the importance statistical analyses. An inventory of 87 landslides
of expert geomorphological knowledge in the produc- plotted at a scale 1:20,000 was introduced into an
tion of landslide susceptibility maps using GIS sup- application with a pixel resolution of 10 · 10 m at a
ported indirect bivariate statistical analysis. Database scale 1:25,000. As can be seen from Fig. 5, the pre-
processing software (ILWIS) and a cartographic pack- sentation of the map obtained is excellent.
age (ACE) were used to obtain an excellent 1:10,000 Ayenew and Barbieri (2005) studied an area near the
map. The test area was a mountain zone of 20.8 km2 town of Dessie (northern Ethiopia) at a scale 1:10,000
with carbonate and flysch sediments in the Alpago ba- to 1:50,000. The factors considered were geology, water
sin (Italy). The data set was obtained at a 1:5,000 scale table, geotechnical properties, slope angle and land-use
with a pixel resolution of 3 · 3 m. Detailed geomor- units. The analysis was performed by overlaying and
phological mapping was undertaken and data on assigning weightings to the contributory factors. The
lithology, structural geology, superficial materials, slope inventory distinguished different types of movements
classes, land use and distances from streams, roads and (debris flows, earth and soil slumps, debris and rock
houses were collected. As in Barredo et al. (2000), di- falls, topples and complex landslides) but the analysis
rect and indirect landslide susceptibility mapping was considered all slope movements. Also an interesting
undertaken. Direct mapping was performed after digi- contribution to rank landslides weighted factors in a
tising the geomorphological units assessed on the basis GIS application to an area in the Apennines (Italy) is
of susceptibility attributes determined directly from presented by Donati and Turrini (2002).
field observations. This provided 195 polygons with
unique identifiers and attributes tables containing Statistical multivariate probabilistic analysis
information about the type of landslide expected and using GIS
the degree of susceptibility at three levels.
Indirect landslide susceptibility mapping was ob- Following the pioneering papers by Carrara and Mer-
tained from a statistical analysis of the result of over- enda (1976), Carrara et al. (1977, 1978), Carrara
laying the factor and inventory maps. The density of (1983), it became clear that multivariate analysis and
landslides in the area occupied by each factor, com- GIS were particularly suitable for landslide mapping,
pared with the density of landslides in the entire area, although external statistical packages were usually re-
was considered to be an expression of the importance quired for part of the data analysis (Chung 1995; Baeza
of each factor in the instability process. Then, using the and Corominas 1996; Luzi and Pergalani 1996a, b;
weights of evidence method (Bonham-Carter 1994), Chung and Fabri 1999; Baeza and Corominas 2001;
indirect landslide susceptibility mapping was per- Lee and Min 2001; Marzorati 2002; Park and Chi 2003;
formed using the GIS. For this purpose, six different Ercanoglu et al. 2004; Süzen and Doyuran 2004b; Xie
combinations of factors were tested against the results et al. 2004; Carrara and Guzzetti 1995; Carrara et al.
of the direct susceptibility mapping. The use of de- 1991a, b, 1992, 1995, 2003; Guzzetti et al. 1999, 2000,
tailed geomorphological information in a bivariate 2004, etc.). Some approaches adopted a probabilistic
analysis raised the overall accuracy of the final sus- treatment of data for slope instability, such as the

356 J. Chacón et al.

Fig. 5 Landslide susceptibility mapping in the Kaluda-Yahiko Mountains, Central Jaan (Ayalew and Yamagishi 2005) made by GIS-
based logistic regression: a inventory of 87 landslides, b landslide probability and c landslide susceptibility map

Engineering geology maps: landslides and GIS 357

Monte Carlo method (Zhou et al. 2003). These meth- landslides and various contributory factors (lithology,
ods have also been combined with uncertainty ap- slope angle, slope aspect, elevation, soil cover, distance
proaches (e.g. Remondo et al. 2003). Many published to river channels). An analysis of multiple correspon-
papers use statistical techniques including weighting dence (MCA) of linear combinations between land-
factors, expert assessment techniques, fuzzy logic or slides and factors was made, after a measure of
neural networks in slope stability maps based on frequency of landslides in relation to each of the fac-
probabilistic reliability index methods. tors. The scale used was 1:20,000 with a resolution of
Hong Kong has been one of the most important 20 · 20 m. The degree of adjustment between inven-
sources of contributions to landslide forecasting maps tory and factors was 82% (Dai et al. 2000), 77.1% with
and techniques. Good examples of GIS (Arc View, all the inventory events, 82.5% considering the most
ESRI) applications to landslide susceptibility mapping recent landslides only (Dai and Lee 2001) and 82.8%
are those authored by Dai et al. (2000), and Dai and with an inventory of 800 landslides (Dai et al. 2001).
Lee (2001, 2002a, b) for Lantau Island, which is fre- Further refinements were introduced by selecting sig-
quently threatened by landslide events. Their meth- nificant factors (slope angle, lithology, elevation, as-
odology is based on an Arc View (ESRI) and SPSS pect, land use) from less significant factors such as
(statistical package) multivariate logistic regression of morphology and distance to drainage network (Dai
presence–absence of dependent variables relating and Lee 2002a, b).

Fig. 6 Landslide
susceptibility map of the
Yongin study area (Korea)
using a probabilistic method
(Lee and Min 2001)

358 J. Chacón et al.

Baeza and Corominas (2001) studied an area of the statistical bivariate analysis using SIG and remote
eastern Pyrenees (Spain) affected by shallow landslides sensing. The density or frequency of landslides was
using a statistical package instead of a GIS. They calculated and classified on a percentage basis. Thir-
performed an analysis of discriminant function be- teen factor maps were overlain, weightings were as-
tween factors such as height, orientation, slope angle, signed and statistical criteria adopted. Temporal
drainage sub-basin, vegetation, soil width and land use validation was undertaken using a sample of landslides
units, taking account of up to eight quantitative and which occurred during and after an earthquake. One
five qualitative variables. The scale of the work was hundred percent of the landslides occurred in areas
1:10,000 and a validation area was included. assigned to the high and very high susceptibility classes.
In the South of Korea, the Yongin area was mapped An interesting aspect of this research was the analysis
by Lee and Min (2001) using bivariate and multivariate made of the landslide environments in order to estab-
analysis and ArcInfo (ESRI) GIS. They used 14 dif- lish antecedent slope and mass parameters.
ferent factors and the pixel resolution was 10 · 10 m. Ercanoglu et al. (2004) made a landslide suscepti-
Internal validation was undertaken by checking the bility map of 64 km2 of the Yenice region of Turkey
correlation between landslides and susceptibility clas- using GIS to overlay factors weighted by statistical
ses in both statistical methods. This demonstrated good multivariate and factorial analysis techniques. Spatial
results but the bivariate analysis was much easier to validation was undertaken by relating the 57 recorded
perform (Fig. 6). landslides to the susceptibility zones.
Santacana et al. (2003) studied part of La Pobla de Lee (2004) made a landslide susceptibility map of
Lillet village (Pyrenees, Spain) by statistical multivari- the Janghung area (South Korea) using bivariate and
ate and discriminant analysis using Arc Info (ESRI). multivariate statistical methods and a pixel size of
Seven different factors were integrated. Spatial valida- 10 · 10 m. Most of the landslides in the 41 km2 study
tion was undertaken by comparing a data set of land- were superficial movements. The bivariate method
slides from a part of the study region with the factors analysed the probability relationship (landslide fre-
derived in other parts of the region and checking the quency) in each of 13 classes of contributory factors.
result against the original susceptibility zonation. Multivariate logistic regression, although a complex
Marquı́nez et al. (2003) studied a 500 km2 rock fall and time consuming process, resulted in a better cor-
front in the Cantabrian Mountains (Asturias, North respondence of recorded landslides with defined sus-
Spain) with a pixel resolution of 25 · 25 m in Arc Info ceptibility levels. Also Dias and Zuquette (2004)
(ESRI) and the SPSS statistical package. They defined presented an interesting probabilistic landslide sus-
a ‘‘rock fall basin’’ unit using topographical criteria. ceptibility mapping in Ouro Preto, Brazil and Ohlm-
This basic unit was used to measure the number of acher and Davis (2003) a logistic regression method to
recent rock falls and establish both activity indicators landslide hazard mapping in Kansas, USA.
and the ratio between areas of recent talus scree and
the rocky slopes which act as source areas. A suscep- Matrix approach
tibility statistical model based on five different factors
was used in a multivariate and logical regression The matrix-assessment approach (DeGraff and Rom-
analysis. Spatial validation was included. esburg 1980) is an objective and quantitative method
Süzen and Doyuran (2004a) studied an area of for establishing an index of instability over an area and
200 km2 in the Asarsuyu basin (Turkey) at a scale evaluating landslide susceptibility. It is based on mea-
1:25,000, using GIS and two methods of statistical sured attributes of the bedrock, slope and aspect from
analysis: bivariate (with the overlay of factor maps and aerial photo interpretation and field work and a land-
use of weighting) and multivariate multiple regression. slide inventory. The total areas covered by landslides
The first method was quicker but less accurate while were placed in each appropriate cell and the amount of
the second, more complex, method provided a better landslide terrain with the same particular combinations
correspondence between the factor analysis and land- of bedrock, slope or aspect units was identified. A
slides. Thirteen factors were considered and analysed management unit matrix was constructed from all
for their relationship with an inventory of 49 landslides bedrock, slope and aspect combinations for landslide
of different types, mostly earth flow and shallow locations, giving rise to different management units
translational slides. The zonation was validated by within the matrix.
comparing the zonation with previous landslide activ- The landslide-susceptibility matrix has a cell corre-
ity. These authors (Süzen and Doyuran 2004b) re- sponding to every cell in the management unit matrix
ported new results in the Asaryuzu basin, from later and each cell in the management unit matrix is divided

Engineering geology maps: landslides and GIS 359

Fig. 7 Susceptibility
flowchart for the GIS matrix
approach (Irigaray 1995) A:
landslide matrix lithology,
slope, aspect; B: Study region
matrix lithology, slope,
aspect. Dividing A and B and
multiplying by 100 gives C:
landslide susceptibility matrix
lithology, slope, aspect; D:
Susceptibility classes in every
pixel: low, moderate, high. (1)
Lithology D, Slope N; Aspect
Z; (2) Lithology E; Slope R;
Aspect Z

into the corresponding cell in the landslide matrix. The two decades. More powerful computing has become
surface covered by landslides for each combination of available at decreasing prices allowing new GIS matrix
attributes of bedrock, slope and aspect is divided by the methods (Irigaray 1990, 1995) to deal with increasing
total surface area where these attributes are observed numbers of attributes.
to give a value of between 1 and 0—the LSI for that In the Betic Cordillera (Southern Spain), a region of
particular set of attributes. Based on this method a about 15,000 km2 has been covered by landslide sus-
quantitative landslide susceptibility zonation was ob- ceptibility maps using the GIS matrix method (Chacón
tained by grouping all the susceptibility values into 1994; Chacón and Irigaray 1992, 1999a, b; Chacón et al.
classes. A non-hierarchical clustering method (Ander- 1992a, b, 1993a, b, 1994a, b, c, 1996a, b, c, 1998, 2003;
berg 1973) using a W function, by minimising the sum El Hamdouni 2001; El Hamdouni et al. 1996a, b,
of squared deviations about the three equally distrib- 1997a, b, 2000, 2001, 2003; Fernández 2001; Fernández
uted groups, was adopted to obtain susceptibility et al. 1994, 1996a, b, c, d, 1997a, b, c, 1998, 2000, 2003,
classes for the final landslide susceptibility classifica- 2004a, b; Irigaray 1990, 1995; Irigaray et al. 1994,
tion (DeGraff and Romesburg 1980). As all of the 1996a, b, c, d, 1997a, b, 1998a, b, 1999, 2000, 2003).
attributes considered in the method may be easily Using Spans Gis (Tydac-Intera), Arc/Info and ArcGIS
measured from field research and aerial interpretation, (ESRI), maps at scales from 1:2,000 to 1:50,000 have
little room is left for personal judgement, hence this is been prepared depending on the research objectives.
a quantitative assessment. The method was designed The main conclusions obtained from these initiatives
for large areas of wild lands. No consideration was may be summarised as follows:
given to differences in behaviour between landslide
types, probably because of the small scale of the 1. The density of landslides per square kilometre in
resulting maps. In further extensions of the method, the whole region is close to 1.8.
DeGraff et al. (1991) used permanent factors such as 2. Small magnitude landslides predominate, although
bedrock, slope steepness and an optional hydrologic there are a limited number of large landslides in
factor (together with the landslide inventory) to obtain mountains formed of metamorphic rocks in the
a landslide hazard zonation. The use of the GIS matrix inner part of the Cordillera which also shows a
method (Fig. 7) has been made possible by the devel- higher susceptibility to landsliding than other parts
opment of microcomputers and software over the last of the region.

360 J. Chacón et al.

3. Landsliding areas in some small basins close to the susceptibility maps were validated using statistical
Mediterranean border may occupy 40% of the techniques to check the relationships of the landslide
total surface area. inventories and the zonations. The results were
4. Debris flows and rock falls predominate in the remarkably good (Irigaray 1995; Fernández 2001; El
mountain areas, followed in number by planar Hamdouni 2001). Further practical validation of the
slides, rotational slides and complex landslides. method was possible using new landslides associated
5. In Tertiary post-orogenic basins, where most of the with the regional heavy rainfall between the autumn of
main cities are located, earth and mud flows, planar 1996 and the summer of 1997. It was possible to
slides and complex landslides predominate with a establish a very good correlation of the new landslides
few cases of rotational slides. with the previously obtained landslide susceptibility
6. In the whole region studied, flows of all types maps (El Hamdouni 2001; El Hamdouni et al. 1997a;
constitute 52% of all landslides, planar and rota- Fernández 2001; Fernández et al. 1997a, 1998; Irigaray
tional slides 23% and rock falls 16%. Complex et al. 1997a, 1998a, b, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2006). An
landslides account for the other 9%. example is shown in Fig. 3 (see also Figs. 2, 4).
A good example of statistical analysis of the corre-
The following recommendations were made:
lation between influencing factors and a landslide
1. A landslide scar inventory and mapping are basic inventory which distinguishes different landslide ty-
tools for landslide susceptibility assessment while a pologies was made following the matrix method by
landslide mass inventory is useful for obtaining Maharaj (1993) for the Upper St. Andrew River Valley
data about reach, slope angle and distance from in Jamaica. He considered slope angle and some geo-
the landslide head and therefore for the assessment technical properties as landslide-influencing factors.
of the element’s exposure to landsliding. The resulting map covered 15 km2 at a scale of
2. The use of traditional landslide inventories with 1:10,000, with five classes of relative susceptibility
scars and masses taken together may introduce which corresponded well with the landslide inventory.
considerable errors in the final landslide suscepti- Cross (1998, 2002) studied a part of Derbyshire
bilty assessment and should be avoided. (UK) by the matrix assessment approach (MAP) based
on the work of DeGraff and Romesburg (1988). A LSI
From GIS analysis of a large number of factors
was calculated as the percentage of landslides in each
determining landslide distribution, it was clear that
class (factor combination). The GIS packages PAN-
lithology was the most important factor in all regions
ACE, DERIVATIVE and MIRAGE were used to
and materials. The analysis of the relationships of
analyse lithology, superficial deposits, slope angle,
factors and landslides indicated that landslide suscep-
slope orientation, relief, height and soil type. An
tibility maps should be made separately for each
inventory was developed at a scale of 1:10,000, and the
landslide type, given the differences observed in for-
method was validated by applying it to a nearby area
mative factors.
and comparing the resulting susceptibility map with the
In the central Betic Cordillera, typical landslides are
distribution of landslides in that area.
generally at an incipient, initial, dormant, or recently
Clerici et al. (2002) made a landslide susceptibility
active stage of development. The key triggering factor
map of 332 km2 of the Parma river valley using
is usually the rainfall during Mediterranean storms but
GRASS GIS with a pixel resolution of 5 · 5 m. The
sometimes medium to large magnitude earthquakes
conditional analysis of six factors and a landslide
with an undetermined return period (probably in ex-
inventory were used to identify 2,131 factor combina-
cess of 200 years) trigger movements. Long term slope
tions in relation to different densities of landsliding.
stability is also determined by active tectonic and
The method was similar to the matrix method de-
geomorphic processes expressed by regional uplift and
scribed above.
river excavation. These have given rise to a number of
deep seated landslides and widespread unstable slopes
in the Mediterranean coastal ranges (Chacón 1999; GIS susceptibility or hazard maps by artificial
Chacón et al. 2001; Garcı́a et al. 2001, 2004). Digitised neural networks
maps of geomorphological indices of active tectonic
movements (as determinant factors) have proved to be The theory of neural networks was first developed by
very useful in landslide susceptibility mapping in these McCulloch and Pitts (1943) for the simulation of the
mountain areas (El Hamdouni 2001; El Hamdouni nervous activity process through biological networks.
et al. 1996b, 2000, 2001, 2003). The resulting landslide Afterwards a system for the treatment of data by means

Engineering geology maps: landslides and GIS 361

of artificial neural networks (ANNs) was developed. 5 · 5 m. Validation was performed using records of
The ANNs are organised in nodes and links in a layer of landslides from the Yongin area. The degree of
data with a number of entry nodes, a hidden layer with adjustment between the susceptibility I index and the
nodes where the information is processed by oriented landslides inventory distributions was observed to be
rules (expert system) and an exit layer with nodes better using weighted factors. Similarly, Gómez and
where the results of the data processing are obtained. Kavzoglu (2005) prepared a shallow landslide suscep-
The data acquired or processed in the nodes are sub- tibility map in the Jabonosa river basin of Venezuela
mitted though the links. The use of ANNs supports the using Arc View (ESRI) and other complementary
management of databases with information of variable software. Rumelhart et al. (1986) and Binaghi et al.
nature (quantitative or qualitative) by using the rules (2004) provide examples of GIS landslide mapping
‘‘if/then’’ in order to infer results. Entry nodes may using ANN methods.
receive qualitative or quantitative, direct or reclassified Finally, Ermini et al. (2005) present an interesting
data; for instance determinant factor data or densities ANN application to the landslide susceptibility
of different types of landslides in the study area. The assessment of a 17 km2 area of the Riomaggiore
hidden layer nodes process the data; for example fol- catchment in the Northern Apennines, Italy (Fig. 8).
lowing weighting rules depending on the considered They used two different models, both developed by the
importance (Lipmann 1987; Zell 1994). Trajan 6.0 Professional—Neural Network Simulator
The ANNs method has been applied mainly to (Trajan Software 2001). A high proportion of the
shallow landslides, debris flows and shallow soil col- landslide inventory was correctly identified by the two
lapses as in Basma and Kallas (2004). For instance, ANN models and the authors considered the results
Fernández-Steeger et al. (2002) made a map of stable ‘‘comparable with the same figures relative to other
and unstable zones in the Eastern Alps of Bad Ischl prediction and classification methods (Carrara and
(Austria). Lee et al. (2002a; 2004a) developed a Guzzetti 1995)’’. They suggest that although ‘‘not
method of landslide susceptibility mapping using a GIS suitable for exportation to very different geomorpho-
in which they applied a LSI by overlaying and logical settings, (they) could be usefully applied in a
weighting factors with a Bayesian probabilistic ap- large part of the Northern Apennines, in which geo-
proach, or by bivariate weighting of evidence. The logical and geomorphological conditions are very
method was applied at a scale of 1:5,000 and a pixel similar to those of the test site’’.
resolution of 10 · 10 m. The main advantage of using ANN methods is that
Lee et al. (2002b) used a neural network to overlay there is no need for any statistical variables in the
and weight factors to provide a LSI in the Yongin area process. The ANN methods allow the target classes to
(South Korea). They used a combination of Arc Info be defined in relation to their distribution in each
(ESRI) and a mathematical package (MATLAB) to source data set, facilitating the integration of data
analyse seven factors (slope, curvature, soil texture, emerging from remote sensing, GIS, etc. Further, the
drainage network, soil width, type and diameter of time involved is shorter than required for most statis-
trees). The inventory was based on recent landslide tical techniques and calculation pixel by pixel is pos-
mapping at a scale of 1:20,000. The topographical data sible. The method allows incomplete or imperfect data
in the digital elevation model (DEM) was at a scale of to be managed as well as the analysis of interactions
1:5,000 with a pixel resolution of 10 · 10 m, while between non-linear or complex variables (Lee et al.
information on influencing factors was obtained at a 2003). Nevertheless, different authors have drawn
scale of 1:25,000. The LSI was estimated in two dif- attention to the difficulty of following the internal
ferent ways: from the importance of each factor class in process within the hidden layers and the amount of
frequencies assessed by a probabilistic method, and by computing time needed for changes in data format for
using an ANN. The adjustment between the suscepti- use in the GIS. The ANN method is applied mainly to
bility classes and the records of previous landslides was shallow landslides, debris flows and shallow soil col-
calculated with and without weighted factors, leading lapses, as in Basma and Kallas (2004). Also neural
to the conclusion that a better result was obtained by methods are applied by Neaupane and Achet (2004).
using weighted factors.
Lee et al. (2003) undertook a landslide susceptibility Fuzzy logic and grey systems
map for 68 km2 of the Boun Region (South Korea)
using GIS techniques and ANNs. The MATLAB ‘‘Fuzzy logic (Zadeh 1965) is a superset of conven-
(Mathworks Inc) package was used for the statistical tional (Boolean) logic that has been extended to han-
external treatment of the data; the pixel resolution was dle the concept of partial truth values between

362 J. Chacón et al.

Fig. 8 Landslide
susceptibility mapping of the
Riomaggiore catchment,
Apennines, Italy (Ermini
et al. (2005). a Cumulative
distributions of the ANN
outputs for the two models as
a whole and for the subsets
relative to the mapped
landslide areas. The
highlighted thresholds relate
to ‘‘points of inflexion’’ in the
landslide-subset curves and
used for the subsequent
landslide susceptibility
mapping. L: low susceptibility;
M: medium susceptibility;
H: high susceptibility; VH:
very high susceptibility.
b Landslide susceptibility map
using MLP techniques and
c landslide susceptibility map
using PNN techniques

‘completely true’ and ‘completely false’’’ (Gorsevski to the problem of multisource data analysis and
et al. 2003). Fuzzy logic has been widely used in many classification, especially when conditions of hetero-
different fields including, for instance, soils and land geneity and uncertainty co-exist among the data.
evaluation (Burrough 1989; Burrrough et al. 2000, Their paper gives an excellent comparative study of
2001). Fuzzy logic relationships are applied in order to certainty factor (CF) and fuzzy Dempster–Shafer
avoid subjectivity in parameter selection when using a (FDS) models in the specific field of slope instability
large number of landslide factors (Zadeh 1978). zonation. The CF is one of the favourability func-
Binaghi et al. (1998) discussed the limitations of tions (FF) proposed by Chung and Fabbri (1993) to
GIS for an adequate treatment of the different layers solve the problem of combining heterogeneous data
of significant data for landslide mapping/modelling. also applied to landslide hazard zonation in the
They indicated that current research in data inte- Fabriano Area by Luzi (1995b). The favourability
gration focuses on ‘soft’ computing approaches (such function fk is defined as
as knowledge-based system fuzzy set theory, neural 
networks, probabilistic and evidential approaches, A ! ½mink ; maxk  ! ½a; b
genetic algorithms) that can be successfully applied A ! ½1; 2; 3 . . . nk  ! ½a; b

Engineering geology maps: landslides and GIS 363

A being the study area, with continuous values be- study area is in the Umbria-Marche Apennines. The
tween a minimum and a maximum, non-continuous research was based on sets of aerial photographs taken
values 1 to n, and a to b as the range of the FF. It is a in 1955 and 1971 at a scale 1:30,000. A number of
process of transformation which gives a common factor maps were prepared at scales of 1:25,000 and
interval [a, b] to the different types of data which may 1:50,000. From the analysis of inventories of current
then be combined in pairs. In the GIS, the smallest landslides and the aerial photographs, they proposed
land unit is a pixel, representing a square cell with two objectives:
dimensions depending on the specific case. In common
1. Testing the prediction capability of the models in
with other methods, it is assumed that a statistical
time and space. The prediction is performed using
relationship exists between past landslides (the inven-
the earth flows that took place before 1955; the
tory) and the different factors which influence the
capability test is then performed comparing the
slope stability conditions (represented by spatial data
predictions with occurrences after 1955.
sets of geology, slope, morphology, soil cover, vegeta-
2. To assess a prediction for the future based on the
tion, etc). Binaghi et al. (1988), and many other au-
earth flows data set updated to 1992.
thors, considered the statistical relationships between
past landslides and the spatial data sets of factors ex- In this way, they obtained landslide hazard catego-
press the degree of landslide hazard, although without ries. They concluded that in the CF approach the level
any temporal significance hence limiting the under- of confidence in the assessed hazard mainly depends on
standing of the level of exposure or potential danger. the appropriate selection of thematic layers, their
The CF, originally proposed by Shortliffe and Bucha- classification for hazard zonation purposes and the
nan (1975) and later modified by Heckerman (1986), is accuracy of the landslide inventory. This requires a
defined ‘‘as the change in certainty that a proposition good knowledge of the phenomena in the study area.
(i.e. an area is landslide prone) is true’’. It is expressed FDS allows expert knowledge to supply the incom-
by the relations: pleteness and inconsistency of the available data. On
the other hand, the adequacy of the training data,

ðcpa  cps Þ=ðcpa ð1  cps ÞÞ if cpa  cps created during the elicitation of sample cases, can be
ðcpa  cps Þ=ðcps ð1  cpa ÞÞ if cpa \cps quantified. A general criterion for the method selection
is to identify the best fits of the available data and the
where cpa is the conditional probability of having a expected achievements. An integrated use of these two
number of landslide events occurring in class ‘a’ and complementary methods in an hybrid framework,
cps is the prior probability of having the total number particularly for classification studies dealing with
of landslide events occurring in the study area ‘A’. The complex and partially unknown domains, was finally
range of CF is [ – 1, 1], i.e. from a positive value recommended.
meaning the increasing certainty of landslide occur- Borselli et al. (1998) applied fuzzy mathematics for
rence to a negative value when the certainty of land- assessing the hill slope instability hazard over a
slide occurrence is decreasing. The values approach 0 1,200 km2 area in Abruzzo, Central Apennines, Italy.
when the prior probability is very close to the condi- The concept of hazard in this research was not derived
tional one and hence any indication as to the certainty from any temporal set of data but from an identifica-
of the landslide occurrence is very difficult to establish. tion of factors which determine the hill slope instabil-
The Dempster–Shafer theory of evidence is a way of ity, hence it may be correlated with methods of
overcoming some of the limitations of the Bayesian landslide susceptibility mapping. A comparison of the
theory by a generalisation concerning the assignation obtained zonation using fuzzy logic with a determin-
of high levels of belief from limited evidence. It was istic zonation in that area was included, as well as an
introduced by Shafer (1976) based on the rule of internal validation of the method. For the validation,
combination of Dempster (1968), which provides a 203 squares of 1 km2 were scattered within 50% of the
method for changing beliefs in the light of new evi- sample area to check the consistency between the
dence. It is based on collecting the available total evi- landslide ‘‘hazard’’ level (HC) and landslide occur-
dence and considering it in terms of for and against a rence classes (LC). This showed that 63% of the
given probability. squares over-estimated the hazard level (HC>LC),
From the previously mentioned basic concepts of 29% of squares were equivalent and only 8% under-
Varnes (1984) about hazard and risk, they applied both estimated the hazard level (HC<LC).
models to the 1:50,000 scale ‘Fabriano’ geological map Remondo et al. (2003a) mapped landslide suscepti-
sheet, published by the Italian Geological Survey. The bility using GIS in a sector of 140 km2 in the Deba

364 J. Chacón et al.

river valley, Guipúzcoa, Spain, by multivariate analysis other to test these. Six environmental attributes [ele-
of five combinations of 17 different factors and an vation, slope, profile curvature, tangent curvature,
inventory of 2,000 landslides. They applied conditional compound topographic index (CTI), and solar radia-
probability, certainty and fuzzy membership functions tion] were derived from 30 m DEMs using specific
in quantitative values by means of a bivariant analysis software. The continuous fuzzy k-means landform
of frequency of landslides in each factor class, using a classification was performed using these six environ-
favourability value. A retrospective temporal valida- mental attributes as the input to FuzME (a PC Win-
tion of the susceptibility map was undertaken from dows-based program) while the Bayesian modelling
seven sets of aerial photographs, spanning 43 years. was implemented using an Arc View (ESRI) extension
Gorsevski et al. (2003) integrated a fuzzy k-means that employed the correlations between the derived
classification and a Bayesian approach for the spatial fuzzy k-means landform classes and the landslide
prediction of landslide hazard in a case study of the occurrence datasets.
Clearwater National Forest (CNF) in central Idaho One of the objectives of the research was to test the
(USA) which is heavily affected by landslides. The models derived from fuzzy k-means classification and a
fuzzy k-means clustering approaches, clearly described Bayesian approach, against the results obtained from
in the paper, are similar to a cluster analysis to group previous models such as Fsmet (McClelland et al.
patterns of data that in some sense belong together and 1997) and SHALSTAB (Dietrich and Montgomery
have similar characteristics, by a repetitive procedure 1998). The first was specifically developed for the
of selection of a set of random cluster points and Clearwater National Forest (CNF) in north central
building clusters around each seed. This technique has Idaho and used a heuristic rule that defines high hazard
been applied to various fields of research including areas as those locations with slopes greater than 60%
disciplines such as geology and soil-landscape model- and with parent materials of schist or granites at ele-
ling. The Bayes theorem is a method used to aid vations below 1,400 m. The SHALSTAB is a physically
decision making under uncertainty, based on a frame- based model combining the infinite slope equation of
work for combining subjective probability (of being the Mohr–Coulomb failure law and a hydrological
true or false) with conditional probability (of being component based on steady-state shallow subsurface
true or false). Subjective probability is an expression of flow (O’Loughlin 1986). The results obtained by Gor-
the degree of belief in an event occurring based on a sevski et al. (2003) from this integration of GIS, fuzzy
person’s experience, prejudices, optimism, etc. (Mal- k-means and Bayesian theory were extremely inter-
czewski 1999). Conditional probability is the knowl- esting, suggesting a strong potential for use in landslide
edge about the likelihood of the hypothesis being true, hazard mapping.
given a piece of evidence (De Aráujo et al. 2004, Favre Ercanoglu and Gokceoglu (2004) provided a very
et al. 2000). For example, one cannot be certain whe- detailed description and excellent presentation of a
ther landslides always occur in areas of topographic method of using fuzzy relations and multivariate sta-
convergence. The knowledge might be expressed as the tistical analysis in landslide susceptibility mapping in a
user being 90% certain (i.e., probability=0.9) that part of the West Black Sea region of Turkey. The scale
landslides will occur in areas of topographic conver- was 1:25,000, with a pixel size of 25 · 25 m in IDRISI
gence (Gorsevski et al. 2003). A training area of GIS. The 266 landslides in the 275.4 km2 study area
111.8 km2 located in the northwest of the Lochsa Basin consisted mainly of rotational slides with some earth
was used for classification because of the high landslide flows and translational slides. Ten factors were
density following landslide events in November 1995 grouped in three sets of parameters: geological, topo-
and February 1996 and the similarity of the topo- graphical and environmental. The consistency between
graphic attribute distributions with the overall CNF. the final susceptibility map and the landslide inventory
A landslide inventory of 865 events recorded in map was checked using two parameters: the strength of
November 1995 and February 1996 was assessed from the relation (rij) and the root mean square error
aerial reconnaissance flights and field work. Fifty-five (RMSE). The authors considered the calculated values
percent of the landslides were related to the forest road of 0.867 and 0.284, respectively, showed ‘‘the produced
(RR); the remaining being referred to as NRR (not landslide susceptibility map in the present study has a
related to roads). Using a 30-m grid, the presence/ab- sufficient reliability’’.
sence of landslide data was represented with values of Also Tangestani (2004) undertook landslide sus-
1 or 0. The RR and NRR grid coverages were sepa- ceptibility mapping using the fuzzy gamma approach in
rated so that data from one area (sub-watershed) were a GIS in the Kahan catchment area, southwest Iran.
used to develop quantitative models and data from the This was done using the gamma operator, one of the

Engineering geology maps: landslides and GIS 365

most common aggregation operators available for the under planar failure and the average and standard
calculation of the fulfillment of a fuzzy rule, based on deviation values are obtained from geotechnical
given individual premises (An et al. 1991; Bonham- parameters such as material specific weight, cohesion
Carter 1994; Zimmermann 1996). and friction angle. A definition of a limit equilibrium
Fuzzy cognitive maps (FCM, Liu 2003) ‘‘are graphs state is FS=1 or its natural logarithm equal to 0
that provide a powerful and flexible framework for (ln(FS)=0). If the relationship between capacity and
knowledge representation. Unlike traditional repre- demand expresses the safety factor FS, then ln(FS) =
sentational systems, FCMs are able to represent causal (ln C – ln D) and given a normal distribution of ln(FS)
reasoning process with fuzzy degrees consistent with the reliability index b is
that of the human. Consequently, FCMs can be used to
build practical functional systems’’. Combined with b ¼ ½averaged(ln(FS))=standard deviation (ln(FS)):
GIS which ‘‘is essentially a representation of the data
with little or no intelligence built into the system, the The better known methods for calculating the
human expert is ultimately responsible for the inter- averaged value and standard deviation of FS are the
pretation of the data. Recognising the constraints Taylor series method, the point estimation method and
associated with using a GIS for decision support the the Monte Carlo simulation. The Taylor series method
FCM is an inference system’’. retains only the linear terms (first order) of the series
Lu and Rosenbaum (2003) detail, with examples, the for the calculation of the two first moments (the
range of maps of stability conditions using fuzzy logic average and the standard deviations) hence is also
and grey systems (Den 1982). This is an analytical known as the FOSM method (first-order second-mo-
technique for systems with both known and unknown ment). The Monte Carlo simulation allows the assess-
parameters or features and is particularly useful when ment of the performance function (FS) from huge
only a limited amount of data is available. Other amounts of possible values randomly selected from the
interesting contributions are found in Chi et al. population of real geotechnical data introduced into
(2002b), Chung and Fabbri (2001), Saboya et al. (2004) the software. The term Monte Carlo was adopted by
and a wider treatment in Hines (1997). the United States experimental group dealing with the
design of the atomic bomb in 1942, alluding to the
selection of random numbers in the famous casino. A
Probabilistic analysis of the slope safety factor number of software packages are currently available
by the reliability index for that purpose such as @RISK (Palisade Inc.), Crystal
Ball Professional (Decisioneering Inc.), DecisionPro
In recent years, GIS mapping has also been undertaken (Vanguard Soft. Corp.), XLSlim (AnalyCorp Inc.), etc.
using a probabilistic treatment of the factor of safety The reliability index b represents the number of
calculations. The reliability analysis has been devel- values of the standard deviation giving rise to a log-
oped from capacity-demand models, assessed by the b normally averaged performance function (ln(FS)) va-
reliability index, where the uncertainty is associated lue higher than 0. The projection of the results offers a
with the performance of given structures or slope sta- graphical way to assess the slope stability as the
bility systems, with no temporal implications. Weibull probability of a FS value higher than 1 (or any other
(1951) discusses failure probability in any given time projected value). An example of a geotechnical appli-
period with exponential distributions that are useful for cation is shown in Hoek (2002, Chap. 8, http://
tensile strength distribution models. Developments of the subject for
The capacity-demand model in geotechnics is used geotechnical applications are also available from the
to assess the failure probability associated with a given US Army Corps of Engineering (1995, 1999) in http://
load or stress condition. The b reliability index is
defined as the ratio between the expected value of the A number of GIS maps based on Monte Carlo
safety margin (difference between capacity and simulation or FOSM approaches require external use
demand) and its standard deviation. The calculation of software packages in order to provide basic analyt-
requires a deterministic model for selecting a perfor- ical data to the GIS application. A good example is a
mance function, to define a limit equilibrium stage, and slope vulnerability map of the upper valley of the
finally to calculate the average and standard deviation Serchio River (Toscana, Italy) made in Arc/Info
for the limit equilibrium. In slope stability analysis, a (ESRI) by Luzi et al. (2000). This used geological,
factor of safety model (FS) is commonly used. The geomorphological and hydrological data, comple-
performance function (T) is that of an infinite slope mented with geotechnical data provided by the local

366 J. Chacón et al.

administration. The data were analysed statistically in and Vicsek (1991). In these, lengths increase as an
order to obtain probability distributions of cohesion, exponential function of the decreasing diameter of a
friction angle and specific weights. These were used in hypothetical wheel used to measure a given linear
the calculation of the reliability index for plane failure pathway. The power of the exponential function de-
in an infinite slope model, including data about critical fines the fractal dimension D of the given feature. The
horizontal accelerations. The contribution of the pore basic fractal equation is given by
water pressure to the slope instability had to be directly
assessed from shallow hydrological data as no hydro- NðRÞ ¼ C=RD
geological data from deeper aquifers were available. A
weighted evidence Bayesian method was used to ob- where N(R) is the number of objects with linear
tain a map showing probabilities of water outflow. dimension R, C is a constant and D is the fractal
Landslide susceptibility was assessed by both the dimension.
Monte Carlo simulation and the FOSM methods. Re- Since Gutenberg and Richter (1954), fractals have
sults were compared and errors were assessed. The been widely used in seismic studies of earthquake
authors concluded that there were no significant dif- magnitude distributions and have proved useful in
ferences between the results obtained from these two work on distribution and frequency of landslides from
methods although the Monte Carlo simulation was inventories. There is a very interesting potential
easier to use. They also remarked on the usefulness of application to landslide mapping as well. Haigh et al.
the failure probability results in comparing costs de- (1988), measuring and analysing volumes of rockfalls in
rived from safe design of civil works, and in defining a Himalayan road, pointed out the self-organisation
priorities for management of remedial works for dif- and entropic properties of landslides. Sasaki et al.
ferent areas. (1991), studying relationships between size and fre-
Other interesting GIS maps using similar probabi- quency of landslides in Japan, used fractal analysis to
listic methods may be found in Esaki et al. (2001), derive a general fractal dimension, D = 3.3, for the
Zhou et al. (2003), Xie et al. (2003a, b; 2004a). There is study region, although with variations depending on
an interesting discussion concerning the uncertainty more localised lithology and vegetation. They sug-
inherent to the geotechnical and geometrical parame- gested that fractal dimension values might have value
ters necessary for the slope stability calculations, for for forecasting future landslides and demonstrated that
instance in the method of analysis and calculation of the ratio between size and length increases with the
factor of safety. A method to obtain the minimum scale of the landslide. Hiura and Fukuoka (1993, 1996)
reliability index of a given slope is in Bhattacharya studied 11,000 landslides in the Hokkaido island (Ja-
et al. (2003) and different contributions on the GIS pan). They determined fractal dimensions D of 1.42
regionalisation of data may be found in Davis and and 1.6 depending on the calculation method (counting
Keller (1997a, b) and Giasi et al. (2003). box or correlation integral). They also found D values
Fundamentals of the probabilistic concept of risk in of 1.44 and 1.77 for shallow landslides. Using Weibull
geotechnical engineering are found in Alonso (1976). distribution functions, they derived an equation of the
An interesting case study of landslide risk in geotech- fractal dimension D as a function of the total landslide
nical engineering is found in Babu and Mukesh (2003). area (a) and the total basin area (A):
Corominas and Santacana (2003) developed a GIS
D ¼ 5:9ða=AÞ þ 1:44
method to map the distribution and variability of slope
stability safety factor in a landslide mass using geo-
Kubota (1996) also analysed the fractal dimension of
technical data and considering different water pressure
the topography of the landslides from the scarp pro-
jections and showed that since these forms follow a
self-similarity model it is possible to derive its fractal
Fractal analysis and landslide map modelling dimension. He obtained a D value of 1–1.5 depending
on the lithological group. He suggested that the ob-
The ‘‘fractal’’ concept comes from the observation of tained fractal dimension D is a measure of the slope
self-similarity of natural features—the latin term failure probability and the terrain susceptibility to
‘‘fractus’’ means fragmented. This expresses the state landsliding. Also Goltz (1996) analysed landslides in
of a set of fragments resulting from an irregularly Hokkaido and Tohoku (Japan) to demonstrate multi-
shaped body (Mandelbrot 1983) such as a coastline fractal character after a review of models and numer-
(Mandelbrot 1967) or many other natural forms Family ical results.

Engineering geology maps: landslides and GIS 367

Czirók et al. (1997) analysed the geomorphological – 1.5 to – 1. They derived a model of soil moisture-
evolution of mountain ranges from the point of view of slope stability in which a critical threshold was
fractal dimensions of erosional surfaces. They related dependent directly upon a critical shear stress condi-
the landslide distribution to the evolution of the sur- tion. This was controlled by given values of cohesion,
face roughness, described in terms of the parameters of pore pressure, internal friction angle and slope angle,
temporal (a) and spatial (b) scaling. Based on dynamic which can also be expressed in terms of soil moisture
scaling theory (Family and Vicsek 1991), a surface h(x, and slope angle. Applying their soil moisture distri-
t) is expressed by its average standard deviation w(L, t) bution-slope stability model, they demonstrated that
over an interval of linear extent L, and for t fi ¥, the the cumulative frequency–size distribution of domains
rough surface is expressed as of shear stress above the critical threshold value obeys
a power law which is a function of area. This had an
D¼da exponent of – 1.8 for large landslides. This work
potentially opens the way towards quantitative land-
where D is the fractal dimension and d is the
slide hazard assessment based on remote sensing and
embedded dimension. During the early stages of the
soil moisture analysis.
landscape evolution the roughness increases as
Venkatachalam et al. (2002) also used remote sens-
wðL; tÞ  tb : ing, slope stability calculations based on the planar
failure of an infinite slope model and fractal analysis in
Czirók et al. (1997), following this theoretical ap- GIS risk evaluation of landslides in the Western Ghats
proach, secured experimental data from an initially of the Indian Himalayas where monsoon season rainfall
smooth ridge made of a mixture of silica sand and soil triggered considerable landslide activity. A case study
which was exposed to erosion by water. The structure considered the village of Parmachi which was affected
eroded in a manner analogous to actual mountain by a landslide on 28 June 1994. They defined ‘‘risk’’ as
profiles with self-similarity. Values of a = 0.78 ± 0.05 the product of the probability of occurrence of critical
and b = 0.8 ± 0.06 obtained from this experimental rainfall, the probability of slope failure and the conse-
model were in very good agreement with actual transect quences of that failure. Using a case study in western
profiles where a = 0.8 ± 0.1. Data from published re- Montana (USA), the 17 August 1959, Madison Canyon
search in areas of the Japanese Alps and the European Landslide, they validated a model relating the deposi-
Dolomites showed how a morphological system evolves tion pattern with distance of run-out and deposition
into a critical state at which surface roughening takes profiles, in terms of fractal dimension of the terrain.
place as a result of power-law distributed landslides. The computer techniques used were based on a digital
Yi and Sun (1997) analysed the Nielamu area of elevation model (DEM) shortest path analysis in a
Tibet. They related landslide distributions and activity raster GIS. The results agreed with observed values.
from a fractal point of view and showed changes on Distributions of slope angles and size frequencies of
fractal dimension values in gully systems depending on landslides were analysed by Iwahashi et al. (2003) in
the landslide activity. This suggested that evolving the Higashikubiki area of Honshu Island (Japan). The
values of fractal features could be used in spatial and landslide types in their inventories were slumping,
temporal prediction of landslides. sliding and creeping on sedimentary rocks. They used
Pelletier et al. (1997) analysed changes in soil Arc/Info (ESRI) to analyse the digitised inventory on a
moisture in the Washita experimental basin (Chicka- DEM with 25 · 25 m resolution and a scale of
sha, Oklahoma, USA) (http://www.hydrolab.ars- 1:25,000, showing about 10,000 landslides. Using INFO using microwave tables and the SLOPE command they obtained slope
remote-sensing data from scales of 100 m to 10 km. angles and sizes for landslides in the study area. The
They established power spectrum S(k) behaviour of mapped landslide attributes were scarps, mass and fis-
soil moisture. There was an approximate power law sures cracks. Mean slope angle frequency distributions
dependence on wave number k with the exponential for 100 significant landslides were calculated. These
– 1.8. Further studies of the cumulative frequency and approximated to a normal distribution but a skew to-
sizes of landslides triggered by rainfall in Japan and of ward the lower angle was observed. Landslides in dif-
landslides in the Northridge quadrangle (California, ferent geological units were similarly plotted on a
USA) induced by the 1994 earthquake demonstrated graph of mean slope angle (degrees) versus frequency.
that resulting large landslides show a power law The curves were interpreted as resulting from related
dependence on area with the exponent ranging from slope processes. After testing the curves with several

368 J. Chacón et al.

different distributions, it was found that the Weibull be considered as self-organised critical (SOC) phe-
exponential distribution was the most appropriate. nomena.
They analysed the meaning of this adjustment and Bak et al. (1988) used the behaviour of a sand pile
obtained a hazard function model to explain landsliding, an approach also referred
to by Somfai et al. (1994), Goltz (1996), Yokoi et al.
bðx  cÞb1 (1995), Turcotte (1999a, b, 2001), Gomez et al. (2002)
HðxÞ ¼
gb and Hergarten (2003) or, for snow avalanches, by
Birkeland and Landry (2002). SOC behaviour has been
where g, b and c are the scale, shape and location researched by Guzzetti et al. (2000) in studies of land-
parameters, respectively. slide inventories in Italy. Turcotte et al. (2002), Tur-
They concluded that the probability of slope failure cotte and Malamud (2004), Malamud et al. (2003, 2004)
increases by a power law with the increase of the studied the size–frequency distribution of landslides in
slope angle. The exponent depends on geological Italy, Guatemala and USA, triggered by different
features. The calculated shape parameters (b) of rainfall events or earthquakes. They demonstrated that
around 3 showed no relation to any geological feature a good adjustment between cumulative landslide areas
and were therefore interpreted as expressing similarity and sizes can be expressed by a three parameter gam-
of landslide processes and mechanisms. The observed ma-inverse distribution. They established, using natural
location parameter (c) was also unrelated to geologi- logarithm functions, a scale of landslide magnitude in
cal features, but the scale parameter (g) showed a term of number of triggered landslides. The universal
large decrease with decreasing grain size of the geo- probability distribution of landslide events for small
logical unit. Size–frequency distributions approxi- landslides was found to have an exponential ‘‘roll-over’’
mated to power law distributions. D and dependencies and, for medium and large landslides, followed a power
of unstable clusters indicated a critical state within the law tail with a slope of 2.40. The mean area of landslide
system, between stable and unstable, of selected in the distribution was AL = 3,070 m2, independent of
landslides of each type. A variation in the fractal both the total number NLT and total area ALT of all
dimension D from 2.1 to 2.24, although without a landslides triggered by the event. They also proposed a
clear statistical significance, was considered as proba- landslide event magnitude scale ML = log NLT.
bly expressing that the finer the geological features, The main applications of these researches to land-
the larger the power coefficient. slide mapping are first to assess the extent in which a
Roaui and Jaaidi (2003) undertook an interesting given landslide inventory may be considered signifi-
analysis of an inventory of 759 landslides in the Rif cant, compared to the expected total number of land-
Mountains of northern Morocco at a scale 1:200,000 slides. This may be estimated by the power law relating
although without mentioning the types of landslides event magnitude and number of landslides. Secondly,
involved. They verified the multifractal distribution of given the number of landslides triggered by an event of
the inventory following the box counting method in known magnitude, it is possible to estimate the return
which a map is divided in Nn boxes of size en where the period of the event as a basis for hazard assessment.
subscript n indicate a nth generation scale. The prob- Finally, the fractal dimension of landslides in given
ability of finding a landslide in a cell number i (=1 to N) geological units provides a means for the assessment of
is obtained from the ratio between the number of susceptibility to shallow landslides in soft soils, usually
landslides in the cell and the total number of land- where the soils are rapidly eroded. The severity of the
slides. Therefore, the available inventory portrayed the landslide events could also be assessed using the power
bi-dimensional landslide probability distribution. The law relationships. Further theoretical developments
multifractal scaling was analysed as a generation power and concepts on this topic may be found in Turcotte
law function v(q,e) of the cell size en with a negative (1999) and Pike (2000).
mass exponent – s(q), where q is a real parameter, More interesting contributions to spatial analysis of
given by v(q) = e–s(q)n , and calculated as an integral landslide susceptibility or landsliding prone slopes
between i = 1 to N of probability Piq. The multifractal mapping or zonations may be found in Aniya (1985),
spectrum was defined by its dimension D(q) = – s(q)/ Brabb (1982), Brass et al.(1991), Luzi (1995a), Codebo
(q – 1). They concluded that landslide distribution in et al. (2000), Coe et al. (2004), Day and Lee (2001),
the study area corresponds to a heterogeneous fractal Foxx (1984), Giafferi (1998), Gokceoglu and Aksoy
system. Selecting a particular sample of landslides, they (1996), Gostelow and Gibson (1995), Griffiths et al.
analysed the scale distribution of landslide size–fre- (2002), Günther et al. (2002, 2004), Jaboyedoff et al.
quency showing that natural landslides in the area may (2004b), Lee et al. (2000, 2001a, b), Liener et al. (1996),

Engineering geology maps: landslides and GIS 369

Paudits and Bednarik (2002), Perotto-Baldiviezo et al. The triggering effect of timber harvesting on spatial
(2004), Thein et al. (1995), Thierry and Vinet (2002), and temporal landslide occurrence was analysed by
Ward et al. (1982). A variety of methods to obtain Siddle and Wu (2001).
landslide hazard maps and assessment, although
mainly concerning spatial hazard, are also found in Landslide hazard maps with coupled slope physical
Baldwin et al. (1986), Bandeira et al. (2004), Bernardos or stability models, and slope hydrological models
and Kaliampakos (2004), Bobrosky et al. (1998), Ca- related to rainfall probability assessment
sale et al. (1994), Chowdhury and Flentje (1998),
Collotta and Saggio (2004), Dhakal et al. (1999, 2000b), Terlien et al. (1995) and Terlien (1996, 1997) modelled
Dobrev and Boykova (1998), Evans et al. (1998), temporal and spatial variations in rainfall-triggered
Fabbri and Chung (1996), Forlati et al. (2004), Franciss landslides, based on remarkably detailed research
(2004), Glade T (2002), Harp et al. (2004), Hayne and using field instrumentation and a large number of
Gordon (2001), Hroch et al. (2002), Jaboyedoff et al. geotechnical tests. The main steps were identification
(2004a, c), Jibson and Baum (1999), Kumar and Shima of the triggering mechanism of landslides, selection of
(1998), Lee and Choi (2001, 2003), Mayer et al. (2002), appropriate hydrological models, selection of slope
Mehrotra et al. (1996), Miller (1995), Omar stability models for input data on established triggering
et al.(2004), Sarkar et al. (1995), Turrini and Visin- mechanisms, determination of the spatial distribution
tainer (1998), Uromeihy and Mahdavifar (2000), Van of input data, determination of pore water fluctuations
Westen et al. (2000). and maximum pore water pressure on potential slip
surfaces and the preparation of the landslide hazard
map including the distribution of failure probabilities
Maps of spatial–temporal incidence and forecasting for different triggering mechanisms. The maps were
of landslides tested by checking locations of recent landslides and
observed landslide frequencies. Terlien (1996) dis-
This section considers the spatial distribution of land- cussed in detail the difficulties of obtaining, and rela-
slide processes and their temporal implications in a tive importance of, the input parameters. He indicated
more or less detailed or quantitative way. Basic defi- great difficulty in assessing spatial distribution of fac-
nitions are associated with the concept of Natural tors important for landslide mapping, such as pore
Hazard (Varnes 1984) which ‘‘means the probability of water pressure, the relations between soil moisture and
occurrence within a specified period of time and within pressure head and the relation between unsaturated
a given area of a potentially damaging phenomenon’’. hydraulic conductivity and soil moisture. For ground-
This requires a measure of temporal and spatial event water-triggered landslides, it is difficult to assess
distribution. Also the definition of landslide hazard important parameters such as soil cohesion, soil angle
zonation of Spieker and Gori (2000, 2003a, b) indicates of friction, leakage into bedrock and effective porosity.
the ‘‘need of adding some kind of annual probability, The results of hazard assessments of landslides
likelihood or chance that a landslide process occurred undertaken for both shallow and deep landslides trig-
including assessment of incidence of landslides coming gered by rainfall or groundwater in Manizales
into a low susceptibility site from farther upslope (Colombia) (Terlien 1996, 1997) were observed to be
higher susceptibility areas’’. very conservative. The model for the considered period
An excellent review of concepts and methods of of time identified potential landsliding areas 5–10 times
landslide hazard assessment may be found in Aleotti larger than the actual areas affected by observed
and Chowdhury (1999). Also interesting contributions landslides. This was believed to result from inaccurate
were made by Fabbri and Chung (2003) and Glade assessment of the landslide frequency and the poor
(2001). The main issue to identify in landslide hazard quality of input data. Nevertheless, despite the appar-
research is the future distribution of landslides in a ent failure of the temporal spatial assessment, the total
given area. While susceptibility maps provide zona- assessment of areas susceptible to landsliding corre-
tions of areas with similar instability or similar condi- sponded reasonably well to the distribution of new
tions that generate landslides, a true landslide hazard landslides. This suggested a reasonable understanding
map should offer a zonation of areas with similar of the hydrological triggering mechanisms and gener-
probabilities of landslides in a given period of time, ally correct assumptions and simplifications in the
based on quantitative analysis of data. In the following model.
paragraphs some examples of different approaches to Following the previously mentioned use of landslide
landslide hazard mapping are presented. isopleth maps (Campbell 1973), Coe et al. (2000) pre-

370 J. Chacón et al.

Fig. 9 USGS map of landslide densities, Seattle, Washington, USA (Coe et al. 2000)

Engineering geology maps: landslides and GIS 371

Table 9 Explanation of the USGS map of landslide densities of an independent way, with the probability of occurrence
Seattle (Washington, USA) (Coe et al. 2000) proportional to the time interval and with probability
Landslide density Mean recurrence Annual exceedance distributions remaining equal for all time intervals.
contour (number interval (years) probability (percent Although these are unrealistic assumptions for natural
of landslides/4 ha chance of one or landslides, the model was considered a best first-
in counting circle) more landslide in
any given year)
approximation as a more accurate model might be
extremely complex and mathematically intractable
2 44.20 2.24 (Crovelli 2000). The model was expressed by PN(t)‡
6 14.73 6.56 1 = 1 – e –t/l where l is the future mean recurrence
10 8.84 10.70
14 6.31 14.65 interval estimated by the historic mean recurrence
18 4.91 18.42 interval, and t is a period of time in the future for the
22 4.02 22.03 exceedance probability calculated for 1, 5, 10, 25, 50
26 3.40 25.48 and 100 years periods (Table 9).
Table showing mean recurrence interval and annual exceedance The authors mentioned that continuing research was
probability values for each landslide density contour being undertaken to integrate the map with landslide
susceptibility models and maps of Seattle (USGS). If
pared a map of the city of Seattle (Washington, USA) susceptibility values could be calibrated with excee-
based on a landslide database. Records spanned the dance probabilities determined from historic data in
period from 1897 to March 1998, with information on well-documented areas, then these values could be
dates from November 1909 (Fig. 9). This 88.4 year estimated directly from susceptibility values (Coe et al.
record was converted into a density map, using a 2000).
moving count circle on a grid of 25 · 25 m (625 m2 An excellent basic paper, founded on theoretical
cell), by means of software developed by the authors. considerations and a practical case study, was that of
A count circle covering an area of 4 ha (200 · 200 m Borga et al. (2002) who presented a ‘‘distributed,
cell) was digitally placed at the centre of each cell. The physically based slope stability model for shallow land-
number of landslides within each 4 ha counting circle sliding’’ which ‘‘ uses a ‘quasi-dynamic’ wetness index to
was then assigned to the 625 m2 cell at the centre of predict the spatial distribution of soil saturation in re-
each circle. The map was made using Arc/Info (ESRI) sponse to a rainfall of specified duration, and allows to
GIS. The base information comprised slopes, roads and account for both topographic and climatic control on
railroads, and the Esperance/Lawton contact zone (a slope failure’’. The paper included a comprehensive
landslide susceptible zone in the contact area between review of the origin and current state of physically based
advance outwash deposits of sand and gravel underly- slope models. The test area was the Rı́o Cordon
ing transitional beds of fine-grained clayey silt). Slopes catchment (Eastern Italian Alps). The 5 km2 area is
were computed from a 10 m cell (100 m2) digital ele- composed mainly of volcaniclastic coarse conglomerates
vation model (USGS DEM’s). Roads and railroads and marly sediments with carbonate rocks. Steep cliffs
were extracted from the USGS 1:24,000 scale digital and highly dissected hill slopes are bordered by
line graph database. The density or isopleth map was unconsolidated rock debris. There is very little human
contoured and smoothed in Arc Info. The historic activity, thin soil and a widespread herbaceous cover in
mean recurrence interval for each landslide density this ‘‘field laboratory’’. A quasidynamic wetness index,
value was calculated by dividing the period covered by defined by a simple algebraic expression of the coupled
the database record (88.4 years) by the landslide count subsurface flow and slope stability model, was proposed
of the numerator in the density value (Crovelli 2000). for a better understanding of the relationships between
For instance, a density of two landslides each 4 ha topography and rainfall variability. Its influence on
would have a mean recurrence interval of 44.2 years, shallow landsliding offered significant improvements
whereas a density of 16 landslides each 4 ha would over steady-state models. From this model, it proved
have a mean recurrence of 5.5 years. The next step was possible to derive the probability of failure initiation as
the calculation of the exceedance probability of land- a function of topography and climate. The authors
slides considering a time range of 1–100 years and an concluded that the success of their methodology de-
area of 625 m2 per cell in a landslide density grid using pended on the quality of the database. They also men-
a Poisson probability model. This is a model for the tioned the need for consistent procedures for
occurrence of random point events in ordinary time measurement and recording of landslide activity. Other
which is, naturally, continuous (Crovelli 2000). The example of wetness index application is presented by
model considers landslides as point events occurring in Gritzner et al. (2001).

372 J. Chacón et al.

Engineering geology maps: landslides and GIS 373

b Fig. 10 Landslide hazard spatial analysis and prediction using between rainfall during heavy storms and landslides
GIS in the Xiaojiang watershed, Yunnan, China (Lan et al. was undertaken using Arc/Info (ESRI) (Fig. 10). A
2004): a Landslide inventory in the Xiaojiang watershed. b
Spatial distribution of landslide hazards (high instability and certainty factor model (CFM) was used. This is a
moderate instability) with precipitation of 20 mm/day. c Spatial probability function originally developed by Shortlife
distribution of landslide hazards (high instability and moderate and Buchanan (1975) and modified by Heckerman
instability) with precipitation of 120 mm/day. d Hazard model of (1986), introduced in GIS landslide research by various
the Jiangjiagou sub-watershed. Areas A and B are classified as
high instability authors (Chung and Fabbri 1993, 1998; Binaghi et al.
1998; Luzi and Pergalani 1999). Lan et al. (2004) used
Carrasco et al. (2003) made a susceptibility map of a favourability values (ppa, pps) from the landslide
sector of the Jerte valley (Central System, Spain) af- inventory to calculate landslide frequency. A positive
fected by torrential flooding. They used statistical CF means an increasing probability of landslide
methods with a Bayesian approach and two indices: a occurrence, while a 0 value indicates difficulty of
LSI and a surface percentage index (SPI). Five differ- assessing landslide occurrence with any certainty. The
ent factors were used to analyse an inventory of 830 factors analysed were lithological groups, structure,
landslides produced during recent heavy rainfall. The distance to major faults and geomorphology (slope
scale was 1:25,000 and the pixel size 25 · 25 m. A angle, slope aspect and elevation). The analysis of the
hazard map was also derived from relationships be- different factor layers and the relationships of these to
tween landslide susceptibility areas and a rainfall the landslide inventory provided a hazard classification
probabilistic temporal assessment of the basin. by CF value (Table 10, taken from Lan et al. 2004).
Corominas et al. (2003) undertook a GIS integrated Spatial prediction, performed using SINMAP (Sta-
landslide susceptibility analysis and hazard assessment bility Index MAPping) after Pack et al. (1998), was
at a scale of 1:5,000 in the Principality of Andorra in based on limit equilibrium failure analysis using an
the inner Pyrenees Mountains. A landslide inventory infinite slope stability model and a steady-state
of rockfall, slides and flows, lithological map and hydrological model (TOPMODEL) as described by
landslide activity map were introduced into a GIS and Beven and Kirkby (1979) and Connell et al. (2001).
supplemented with a statistical analysis of temporal The stability index (SI) was defined as probability of
data on landslide events and rainfall series. Suscepti- slope stability [SI = Prob(Fs>1)] over the distribution
bility was assessed from analysis of lithology and slope of uncertain parameters (cohesion C, friction angle /,
thresholds for each landslide type, coupled with effective rainfall q, and soil transmissivity T). The
numerical models of the run-out zone related to the stability index was employed to define six hazard
magnitude of the landslides. The hazard analysis was classes from high stability (SI>1.5) to low stability
based on the susceptibility zoning and additional data (SI=0). The parameters were obtained from a DEM
on landslide magnitude and frequency, related to the and geotechnical field investigations. Several different
database of temporal data on landslide and rainfall landslide stability maps were produced from SINMAP
events. A map showing high, medium, low and very for different precipitation conditions showing increas-
low landslide hazard zones was produced and is a basic ing instability area as percentages: 35% for 10 mm/day,
document in the building codes of Andorra. Also 50% for 35 mm/day, 79% for 105 mm/day and 86% for
an interesting assessment of landslide activity using 145 mm/day. Since most of the landslides in the
dendrogeomorphological techniques is proposed by Xiaojiang watershed are rainfall triggered, the result-
Corominas et al. (2004). ing maps were considered by the authors to be helpful
Lan et al. (2004) mapped landslide hazard in the for citizens, land use planners and engineers, to reduce
Xiaojiang watershed (Yunnan Province of Southwest losses by means of prevention, mitigation and avoid-
China). Spatial analysis and prediction of relationships ance.

Table 10 Hazard
Code Range Description Hazard class
classification by CF value
(Lan et al. 2004) 1 –1, –0.5 Very low certainty of landslide occurrence High stability
2 –0.5, –0.05 Low certainty of landslide occurrence Medium stability
3 –0.05, 0.05 Uncertainty. CF value within the range close to zero Uncertainty
represent the interval in which no landsliding
certainty can be expressed
4 0.005, 0.3 Low certainty of landslide occurrence Low instability
5 0.3, 0.8 Medium certainty of landslide occurrence Medium instability
6 0.8, 1.0 High certainty of landslide occurrence High instability

374 J. Chacón et al.

Fig. 11 A time–space based approach for mapping rainfall-induced shallow landslide hazard (Xie et al. 2004b). a Safety factor over
time; b time distribution for a safety factor <1; c distribution of slip depth (or the wetting front depth) for a safety factor <1

Frattini et al. (2004) also used physically based simple hydrological models: a quasi-dynamic model to
models to simulate transient hydrological and geo- compute the contribution of lateral inflow to slope
technical processes on the slopes of Sarno (Southern instability by simulating the time-dependent evolution
Italy) affected by a May 1998 earthquake. They used of the water table; and a diffusion model used to
an infinite slope stability analysis coupled with two consider the influence of water pore pressure devel-

Engineering geology maps: landslides and GIS 375

Fig. 12 a Static factor of safety map of part of the Oat Mountain terms of critical acceleration (ac); d map showing probability of
quadrangle; b landslides triggered by the Northridge earthquake; failure (after Jibson et al. 2000)
c map showing susceptibility to seismically triggered landslides in

oped from vertical infiltration during heavy rain- tion of slope safety factor with time and the triggered
storms. The latter model succeeded in predicting landslide areas are shown in Fig. 11.
correctly the triggering time of more than 70% of the Also physical model analysis in a regional context of
landslides in an unstable area representing only 7.3% land-use changes is introduced by Van Beek and Van
of the total catchment. The quasi-dynamic model was Asch (2004), and for deep-seated or large landslides by
able to predict correctly slope instability in zero-order Miller (1995), Miller and Sı́as (1998).
basins where the failures developed into large debris
flows. The results confirmed the author’s view of the Landslide hazard maps with coupled slope physical
influence of both vertical and lateral water fluxes in or stability models, and slope dynamic behaviour
the triggering of landslides during the Sarno earth- models related to earthquake probability
quake. assessment
Xie et al. (2004b) developed an excellent GIS
application for landslide time-hazard assessment based Probabilistic methods have also been used for assessing
on coupled infiltration and slope stability models that maps of landslides triggered by earthquakes. Jibson
took account of increasing rainfall-induced pore water et al. (1998) presented a method for producing digital
pressure using ArcGIS (ESRI). The case study area probabilistic seismic landslide hazard maps with an
was about 3.4 km2 around Harabun, in the northern example (Fig. 12) from the Los Angeles, California,
part of the Sasebo district, Kyushu (southwestern Ja- area (USA). The research was undertaken in Arc/Info
pan) where a representative landslide occurred in July (ESRI). Data sets from the 1994 Northridge earth-
1997. Slope stability calculations were based on limit quake, including landslides, motion records of the main
equilibrium plane failure, taking account also of time– shock, geological map units, extensive data on the
space changes in geotechnical conditions with depth of engineering properties of the geological units and a
the wetting front over time. Maps showing the evolu- high-resolution DEM, were combined. Theoretical

376 J. Chacón et al.

displacements based on the Newmark (1965) sliding- c0 þ ½ðc  mcw Þz cos2 atan /0
block model were evaluated. This model considers the FSstat ¼
cz sin a cos a
seismic behaviour of a rigid block that slides on an
inclined plane when a known critical acceleration ac where c¢ is the effective cohesion, /¢ the effective
overcomes shear resistance and sliding is initiated. The friction angle, c the material unit weight, cw the unit
analysis calculates the cumulative permanent dis- weight of water, m represents the fractional depth of
placement of the block relative to its base as it is the water table with respect to the total slide depth, z
subjected to the effects of an earthquake acceleration- stands for the slope-normal thickness of the sliding
time history and gives the expected value of the critical mass, and a is the slope angle. After obtaining
acceleration as a function of g (gravitational accelera- probabilistic values for geotechnical parameters,
tion) in terms of the slope safety factor and the slope various probability density functions were simulated
angle a as through Monte Carlo techniques on a pixel-by-pixel
basis. The simulated samples were retained through all
ac ¼ ðFS  1Þg sin a the computing steps, to finally obtain probabilistic
hazard maps. The calculation of seismical generated
Then they compared the results with the landslide Newmark displacements (Dn) assumed that slope
inventory to obtain a probability function relating failure and movement would be initiated if the
predicted displacement (Dn) and probability of failure critical acceleration of the slope ac is exceeded (i.e.
(P(f)) expressed by the equation P(f) = 0.274[1 – the acceleration required to overcome the frictional
exp( – 0.052 D1.663
n )] with a high correlation of resistance of the slope material and to initiate sliding).
R2 = 95.9%. As the resulting hazard map was prepared It was calculated by the equation:
by back analysis of the Northridge earthquake, the
authors proposed the following steps to construct ac ¼ ðFSstat  1Þg sin a0
hazard (probability) maps for other scenarios:
1. Specify the ground-shaking conditions (maximum where g is the Earth’s gravity acceleration and a¢ is
expected level) in terms of Arias intensity (Ia) for a the thrust angle of the landslide block equated to the
given return period. slope angle a¢ only for shallow landslides. Dn (Jibson
2. Combine the shaking intensities with the critical et al. 1998, 2000) was then calculated using the
acceleration (ac) grid using estimated Newmark empirical logarithmic regression equation mentioned
displacements from the equation log earlier. The Arias intensity is often modelled through
Dn = 1.521Ia – 1.993 log ac – 1.546 (Jibson et al. another empirical logarithmic relation as a function of
1998). the earthquake magnitude M and the site distance
3. Estimate failure probabilities from the Newmark from the seismogenic fault R; derived in Wilson and
displacement from the equation of P(f) mentioned Keefer (1985)
log IA ¼ M  2 log R  4:1
True landslide hazard for seismic areas may be ob-
tained from this method depending on the reliability of where IA is expressed in m{s, M is the earthquake
estimated earthquake return periods for the study re- magnitude in the Richter scale, and R is in m.
gion. The method was applied to the Selle valley
Refice and Capolongo (2002) carried out an (Southern Italy) where landslides had been triggered
interesting review of the general background to by the 23 November 1980 Irpinian earthquake. Data
probabilistic applications of Newmark’s model for input in the GIS were a lithological map, raster map
seismically induced landslide hazard assessment, fol- and geotechnical and slope parameters, including dis-
lowing Jibson (1993) and other authors. They applied tances to faults. Several Monte Carlo simulations were
the method to a landslide test site in Sele Valley then undertaken. Statistically, randomised samples
(Italy) using a GIS environment and a Matlab were obtained for each particular set of values from
software package. Newmark’s model (Newmark 1965; common distributions such as the Gaussian, simple
Jibson 1993) regards the slope which is under stress triangular or bPERT probability density function
as a uniform block sliding over an infinite inclined (Vose 1996). The outputs plotted on maps included
surface and uses the known equation of safety factor histograms or data by pixel. The maps obtained by this
of an infinite slope for a planar slide at the limit of probabilistic approach show much better results for the
equilibrium: landslide distribution in the slopes around the source

Engineering geology maps: landslides and GIS 377

fault than those produced by deterministic methods. land-capability analysis by Laird et al. (1979) with
The maps obtained from probabilistic methods, examples from the San Francisco Bay region, Califor-
Gaussian hypothesis and bPERT probability density nia. The aim was to make earth science information
functions, exhibited consistent levels of estimated more useful to planners by making it easier to incor-
hazard on the eastern side of the valley, and a con- porate into the planning process. This measured the
siderably lesser one on the western side. However that ability of land to support different types of develop-
contrasts with the actual situation, in which the western ment with a given level of geological and hydrological
flank of the valley has a higher density of landslides. costs. Total social costs were chosen to rank the rela-
The authors considered this was ‘‘due to the simple tive importance of various geological and hydrological
modelling of the lithology and geotechnical features of conditions. The land costs and all the expenses derived
the area’’. The best result was obtained using bPERT from the correction or control of the different natural
because this method allows ‘‘the statistical distribution hazards affecting the lot including hazards, constraints
to model uncertainties in a non-symmetrical, and thus and resources (in US dollars) were totalled. The pro-
more realistic, way’’. ject was made using a variety of software packages
within a conventional stepwise GIS approach:
Maps of consequences of landslides 1. Basic data maps collecting basic earth science
information on the land.
Landslides lead to gravitational re-adjustments of 2. Interpretative maps compiling each geological
slopes at stages and speeds which are particular to each constraint.
landslide. The geomorphological features of each re- 3. Cost indices, assigning a numerical dollar value to
gion determine the type of landscape evolution and the the various categories of each resulting map to
role of mass wasting as one of the most powerful tools indicate the relative importance of that constraint
in the relief modelling. During the stages of active or resource for each land use considered.
development of a landslide, magnitude and speed de- 4. Total cost assessment by adding the cost indices for
fine its destructive capability. The consequences of a all the conditions found for each land use.
landslide, with a given destructive capability, depend 5. Capability maps obtained dividing these cost
on the vulnerability of the elements of the territory numbers into categories to be mapped for different
threatened by the whole mass, and the tension cracks land uses. Lighter shades represented lower cost
at the back scar, lateral boundaries and within the and higher relative capability.
displaced mass. Where vulnerable elements are pres-
Five categories, from stable to landslide areas, were
ent, the consequences of the landslides are assessed as
distinguished, from an analysis of slope angle intervals,
landslide risk (Rodrı́guez Ortı́z et al. 1978; Varnes
stability of materials and landslide percentages. The
1984; WP/WLI 1993a, 1995; Fell 1992, 1994; Guzzetti
study cost was assessed from the contribution of geo-
2000; Spieker and Gori 2000, 2001, 2003a; Guzzetti and
technical investigations and engineering and construc-
Tonelli 2004; Ojeda-Moncayo et al. 2004 and many
tion practices necessary to prevent damage from slope
other authors). Patt and Schrag (2003) presented a
failure. Thirteen geotechnical firms were interviewed
general discussion on the meaning of risk and proba-
and the building cost and cost of mitigation measures
estimated. The final formula to estimate landslide costs
was as follows:
Landslide risk assessment
Cost in dollar/acre
Widespread interest in landslide risk assessment and
mapping is reflected in a number of excellent reviews ¼ (costs of levels 1; 2 and 3 of investigation per acre)
and general papers published during the last 20 years þ (cost of special engineering measures
(Brabb 1984; Einstein 1988; Chowdhury 1996; Leone in dollar per acre)
et al. 1996a; Leroi 1996, 1997; Highland 1997 in United
States; Fell and Hartford 1997; Baynes and Lee 1998; this second term resulting from the product of the
Leroueil and Locat 1998; Guzzetti 2000; Dai et al. percentage of building cost and the value of buildings
2002; Sorriso-Valvo 2002; Spiker and Gori 2003a in in dollars per acre.
United States and Van Westen 2004). Probabilistic methods were also developed by
Several methods of risk assessment are available in Carrara et al. (1992) and Rezig et al. (1996). Chow-
the literature. An early attempt was a quantitative dhury and Flentje (2003) approached slope reliability

378 J. Chacón et al.


qualitative risk assessment of
the Periana area, Malaga, rockfalls high high
Spain based on Varnes (1984) Slides and flows
method from Chacon et al. middle middle
(1992a, b, c, 1993a, b, 1994a,
b, c, 1996b)
low low

High Middle Low Middle


slope profile

High M Low
Exposed zones

Range of at rest slope angles

: run out maximum distance


very high
high high high
moderate middle middle
low low low
very poor
very low very low very low

analysis to landslide risk, and Remondo et al. (2004) et al. (1988) derived an economic evaluation from a
assessed landslide hazard and risk mapping on the basis probabilistic landslide hazard map in Cincinnati (Ohio,
of past damage using historical data. Also Bernknopf USA).
Risk assessment case studies of debris flows were
V E L O C I T Y (estimated)
published by Morgan et al. (1992) as mentioned by Fell
M =f
= f(Volume,
(Volume, Velocity) Fast moving Slow moving (1994), and new mapping methods with GIS by Mejı́a-
Rock fall Debris flow Slide Navarro (1994) and Liu et al. (2002, 2003). Method-
< 0.001 Slight ologies and study cases about risk derived from rock
V < 0.5 Moderate falls are given in Abbot et al. (1998a, b) and Guzzetti
> 0.5 High et al. (2003b). After the classical method of linear
< 500 High Slight mapping by Menéroud and Olivier (1978) rockfall in
M 500 - 10,000 High Moderate Slight linear risk mapping for railways was considered by
E 10,000 - 500,000 Very High High Moderate
Abbot et al. (1998b), and transport corridors in general
> 500,000 Very High High
by Abbot et al. (1998a), Guzzetti et al. (2004) and
>> 500,000
Prina et al. (2004). Other remarkable examples con-
Very High
cerning linear landslides mapping along roads, high-
Fig. 14 Example of intensity of landslides record (reprinted with ways, pipes or corridors, usually supported by GIS, are
permission of P. Reichenbach) found in Al-Homoud and Masanat (1998), Atkinson

Engineering geology maps: landslides and GIS 379

380 J. Chacón et al.

b Fig. 15 Quantitative risk analysis for landslides. Examples from and velocity), landslide frequency (based on historical
Bildurdalur, N W Iceland (Bell sunamb Glade 2004): a method- information or in four classes ranging from 1 to more
ology; b rock fall risk map—risk to life (individual); c rock fall
risk map—risk to life (object) than 3 observed events) and intensity (a measure of the
destructiveness of the landslide as a function of its
et al. (1998), Baldelli et al. (1996), Augusto Filho and volume and expected velocity). A landslide hazard
Magalhaies (2004), Irigaray et al. (2003), Cevik and assessment was then obtained as a function of fre-
Topal (2003), Cook et al. (1998), Drennon and Schle- quency and intensity. Figure 14 shows a table of
ining (1975), Fransen et al. (2001), Jhingran and intensity of landslides following Cardinali el al. (2002)
Mukherjee (1996), Omar et al. (2004), Sadek et al. but slightly modified in intensity terms.
(2000). Some of these GIS approaches are based on More recent examples of other risk assessment
rock mass classification systems (RMR , Bieniawski methods have been published by Wu et al. (2004) and
1979, 1993, or SMR, Romana 1985, 1993), see Irigaray Xie and Xia (2004). The northern areas of the city of
et al. (2003) or Ronzani et al. (1999). Yuci (Shanxi, China) were affected by widespread
A number of GIS case studies of landslide risk fractures which damaged buildings and other urban
mapping are now available including: Aleotti et al. structures. Wu et al. (2004) developed a ‘‘three map’’
(2000) on hydrogeological risks in the Po river (Italy); method which includes ‘‘intrinsic vulnerability’’, ‘‘spe-
Bardinet and Bournay (1999) for a water supply pro- cific vulnerability’’ and ‘‘hazard maps’’. The intrinsic
ject in Kathmandu; Canuti et al. (2000) at some vulnerability is obtained from the assessment of vari-
archaeological sites in Italy; Rautela and Lakhera ous natural factors by coupling SIG with an ANN
(2000) in Himachal Himalaya (India); Lee et al. (2001) technique. The specific vulnerability is generated by
in the urban area of Ulsan city (Korea); Michel-Leiba coupling GIS and an analytical hierarchy process
et al. (2003) in Cairn community (Australia); Agili (AHP). Using a spatial-operation function in the GIS
et al. (2004) in the Arno river basin (Italy); and the hazard map is obtained by overlaying the intrinsic
Amaral and Furtado (2004) in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). and specific vulnerabilities. The resulting hazard map
A qualitative GIS approach based directly on Var- takes account of human activities and the importance
nes’ (1984) concepts is in Chacón and Irigaray (1992, of the area to be assessed.
1999a) and Chacón et al. (1992a, b, c, 1993a, b, 1994a, Xie and Xia (2004) proposed a systems theory for
b, c, 1996b) (Fig. 13). This is based on the assesment of risk evaluation of landslide hazard reminiscent of
landslide hazard for the different landslide types and Varnes’ (1984) concepts. Given the lack of a unified
the suggestion by Einstein (1988) regarding the hazard definition of landslide risk and the absence of any
significance of susceptibility zones. The vulnerable widely accepted method of risk evaluation, a risk
element is assessed qualitatively depending on its value evaluation system was set up. They defined risk as
and the degree of expected losses under landslide ‘‘probability of landslide of different intensity and
threat. Chacon et al. (1996c), Cardinali et al. (2002) probable loss caused by landslide’’ and divided this
and Corominas et al. (2003) proposed better integra- into ‘‘pure risk’’, when there is only ‘‘loss without re-
tion of data on landslide type and activity to improve turns’’ and ‘‘speculative risk’’ when chances of loss and
landslide hazard assessment. return stand side by side. As ‘‘the returns of the land-
There has been increasing interest in quantitative slide hazard are negligible compared with the loss the
methods, thus Fell and Hartford (1997) proposed a landslide hazard risk is pure risk. In order to evaluate
quantitative assessment of risk (R(DI)) to an individ- the risk of landslide hazard, the occurrence possibility
ual, as the annual probability of loss of life, based on and following loss need to be analysed. The assessment
Morgan et al. (1992), and expressed by the equation: system of landslide hazard risk includes three elements:
R(DI) = P(H) · P(S/H) · P(T/S) · V(L/T) where the hazard evaluation of landslide, the evaluation of
P(H) is the annual probability of the landslide, P(S/H) vulnerability and the evaluation of loss caused by
is the probability of spatial impact or probability of the landslide’’. Different approaches to hazard-risk map-
landslide impacting a building, P(T/S) is the probabil- ping or analysis are found in Chowdhury and Flentje
ity of temporal impact or probability of the building (1996), Ferrier and Emdad Haque (2003), Leroi (1996),
being occupied and V(L/T) is the vulnerability of the Rocha (2004), Spizzichino et al. (2004), Vaunat and
individual (probability of loss of life of the individual Leroueil (2002) and Zerger (2002).
given impact). Bell and Glade (2004) undertook a quantitative risk
Cardinali et al. (2002) developed a new methodo- analysis for landslides with examples from Bı́ldudalur
logical approach for hazard assessment based on data (Iceland) and considered risk assessment as a holistic
on landslide classification (type, age, activity, depth concept including risk analysis, risk evaluation and risk

Engineering geology maps: landslides and GIS 381

assessment (Fig. 15). This was a raster-based approach classify the elements at risk and to calculate the ex-
where all vector data were transferred using a resolu- pected damage to each element for different types of
tion of 1 · 1 m. All specific attribute data were as- landslides, given the magnitude and velocity of the
signed to grid cells distributed in different specific mass. This needs more development as it is difficult to
raster data layers. While basically following Varnes’ propose a definitive approach because of a general lack
(1984) and Fell’s (2000) concepts they undertook of information about relationships between technically
interesting developments through study of an area well described elements of the landscape and data on
threatened by debris flows and rock falls. The landslide landslide type, volume or magnitude, effects of water,
risk (R) was defined as a function of the probability of ice or snow, velocity of the mass and run out distance
the hazardous event or natural hazard (H) and its before the final impact.
consequences (C) on the elements at risk (E): Nevertheless, a number of papers include a more or
less simple vulnerability assessment. Papers on the
Periana study area (Málaga, Spain) mentioned earlier
with a new parameter of consequences (C) defined as included a simple classification into four elements of
the potential outcomes arising from the occurrence of a the territory: unproductive land, extensively cultivated
natural phenomena (including vulnerability and the land and intensively cultivated land with constructions
probability of temporal and spatial impact, as well as (roads and urban areas). The vulnerability assessment
the probability of seasonal occurrence) was based on the fact that with an increasing element
value the damage resulting from landsliding also in-
C ¼ Ps  Pt  Vp  Vpe  Pso ; creases (Chacón et al. 1992a, b, c, 1993a, b, 1994a, b, c,
1996b) (Fig. 13). While this is a qualitative and simple
where P is probability and refers to space (s) or time (t) way to approach risk assessment, it is not useful for a
values and V is vulnerability of buildings (p) and people real economic evaluation.
(pe), while Pso is the probability of seasonal occurrence, Fell (1994) following Morgan et al. (1992) consid-
for instance snow avalanches only happen in winter. ered three types of component of the vulnerability
From these equations the individual risk to people assessment:
Ripe was derived from Ripe = H · C · Eipe and the
object risk to people in buildings Rpe was obtained from V ¼ VðSÞ þ VðTÞ þ VðLÞ
Rpe = H · C · Epe, with vulnerabilities referring to
V(S) is the spatial vulnerability which represents the
people and people in buildings, respectively. Methods
vulnerability derived from the spatial position of the
to calculate the different parameters are proposed and
element at risk.
applied to the 1:5,000 risk maps of the area.
V(T) is the temporal vulnerability which expresses a
Hollenstein (2005), based on natural hazards in
likelihood of temporal impact, taking into account
Switzerland, proposed a simple definition of risk:
temporal changes of the element at risk. A house, for
R = F · N, where F is frequency of an event and N the
instance, may or may not be occupied, depending on
the time of impact.
For natural hazards he extended the risk definition
V(L) is the life vulnerability which expresses the
to R = P · I · E · V, where P is probability (re-
likelihood of loss of life of an individual occupant in
ciprocal of the return period), I is intensity, E is the
the impacted element, or the proportion of the value of
exposure or spatio-temporal distribution of the target
the impacted element which is lost.
objects and V is the vulnerability.
Leone et al. (1996a) also took account of three
Several factors including wind, earthquake and flood
were considered and further developments were
undertaken to apply the method to pilot case studies in
regions where traditional hazard maps were available, 1. A structural damage function for material assets,
to compare the results. His aim was to contribute to a which depends on the intensity of the phenomenon
standardisation of the output of hazard assessments. and the resistance of the structure.
2. Corporal damage to people which also depends on
Vulnerability of the element at risks the intensity of the phenomena plus the intrinsic
(level of danger perception, knowledge of how to
In the Varnes (1984) or Fell (1992, 1994) methods of protect oneself and mobility factors) and extrinsic
assessing landslide risk, it was necessary to accurately (physical protection and technical and functional

382 J. Chacón et al.

circumstances including warning and emergency (five types), network (road, pipe lines, lines, railways
systems). and channels), natural surfaces (terrain, rivers, dams or
3. An operational damage function for the various lakes), sub-element (internal or external to the build-
activities and functions which depends on the ing as animal population, vegetal population and
damage level of the material assets (technical fac- vehicles and furniture) and product stock. These were
tors), the people (human factor) and the secondary set against the damaging factor rates affecting the
functions to ensure the activity (functional factor) various elements with the rate D ranging from 0 to 1.
as well as the ability of the disaster-struck society For instance, a road may be degraded (D=0.05–0.3),
to restore this activity (social, economic and insti- slightly deformed (D= 0.3–0.6); obstructed (D = 0.4–
tutional factors). 0.9) or affected by platform failure (D=0.8–1).
Also they prepared damage matrices to correlate the
These authors produced a table of types and levels
rate of loss of the exposed element under the effects of
of damage, showing elements in six groups: building

Fig. 16 Vulnerability
Buildings and
assessment (reprinted Infrastructure Human lives
V = f(Er, M, Lt) Structures
with permission of
P. Reichenbach) ED ER EP EA VP VS VI Homeless Death


Fig. 17 Specific risk map of SPECIFIC LANDSLIDE RISK

two areas, Rotecarlo,
Cumbria, Italy) (reprinted
with permission of
Secondary roads
P. Reichenbach)


D HOMELESS NO Specific Risk


RISK H33 M12
High density settlement


Engineering geology maps: landslides and GIS 383

the damaging phenomena. All were associated with A semi-automatic procedure, based on GIS tech-
assignments of values between an element at risk and a nology and statistical analysis, to locate exposed ele-
damaging process. ments and to identify homogeneous vulnerable zones
The proposal was intended ‘‘be applied to a suffi- was proposed by Maquaire et al. (2004). This was ap-
cient number of representative cases for validation and plied to a catchment in Southeastern France. The
further improvements’’. An example of graphical method had two steps. First, each element was placed
application for two landslides in the Trièves area into an homogeneous vulnerability zone determined
(France) was included. In these, circular plots with four automatically on the basis of a statistical analysis of
axes were made—relative capital loss, loss of income, geometrical and contextual characteristics. Expert
functional loss and individual loss—representing knowledge was used to validate this classification. In
consequences of landslides. the second step, three classes of vulnerability were

Fig. 18 a) Synthetic map of risk to the Aigle-L’Etivaz road, Canton de Vaud, Switzerland, with risk levels for each 250 m. Risk level
varies between 0 (negligible risk, grey) and 4 (high risk, red); b) description of risk classes (Prina et al. 2004)

384 J. Chacón et al.

Physical quantitative risk assessment could not be applied to

10 0 % large landslides because the uncertainty of parameters
was too great for the application of a formal mechan-
ical-probabilistic method. They proposed a ‘‘direct
evaluation on the basis of the effects on the element at
risk or on the basis of the process intensity’’. A quan-
100% 0% 100%
titative risk analysis was carried out for three separate
Environmental Social
scenarios threatened by rock fall and rock avalanche.
They developed run-out models for the three cases and
estimated an energy zonation (J/kg) per unit mass,
according to rockfall velocity. From this, and taking as
reference a given rockfall mass, they estimated impact
energy at different values for each physical, economic,
environmental and social vulnerability (50, 75 or
Fig. 19 Projection of values of vulnerability factors (Leone et al. 100%). In the case of rock avalanches, the presumed
1996; Prina et al. 2004) destruction was total. The consequences of landslides
were obtained by multiplying vulnerability percentages
specified (low, medium and high) by expert weighting for the value of the element at risk, taking account of
based on specific criteria (people, type of activities, relative value indices for the different elements. The
etc.). The method was tested in a ski resort with a results showed relative consequences in a hierarchical
specific built-up environment. The authors suggested scale of values from 0 to 4. Finally, a landslide risk
the need for a comparison with results from other sites. assessment was derived as the product between con-
Chardon (1999) adopted a geographical approach to sequences and probability of the event occurrence. GIS
global vulnerability in the urban area of Manizales, risk maps for the three scenarios were prepared.
Colombian Andes, threatened by frequent landslides, Cardinali et al. (2002) assessed the vulnerability of
earthquake and some floods. While this research about the elements with a classification of vulnerability de-
territorial vulnerability is remote from traditional grees in terms of: A: minor damage, F: functional or
engineering techniques, it is interesting as a contribu- minor damage, S: structural or total damage. A table for
tion to a better understanding of the complexity of the vulnerability is shown in Fig. 17. The consequences for
vulnerability concept. The author assessed the vulner- the population were indicated at three levels: direct,
ability from an analysis of a very complex range of where casualties are expected; indirect, where only so-
factors emerging from very different fields: natural cio-economic damage is expected and temporary or
factors, socio-economic factors, technical factors, cir- permanent loss of private houses resulting in evacuees
cumstantial factors and functional factors. Using sta- and homelessness. From this, a specific risk assessment
tistical tools and Berlin matrices, a classification and a was made following Varnes’ (1984) concept. Sixteen
hierarchy of the city neighbourhoods was obtained in levels of landslide hazard were permutated with three
terms of types and levels of vulnerability. The resulting levels of expected damage (vulnerability) to obtain
map showed a strong relationship between slope, levels of specific landslide risk. Examples of landslide-
morphology and overall vulnerability. specific risk maps for a major road, two secondary
Rauthela and Lakhera (2000), assessing landslide roads, a low density and a high density settlement were
risk in Himachal Himalaya (India), classified the dis- included from a project in Rotecastello (Central Um-
tribution of the population into five classes (from bria, Italy). In the 79 study locations of this project, 980
sparsely to very highly populated) and correlated these landslide hazard zones were identified. The specific risk
with landslide hazard classes (four classes: least, low, assessment was identified for 21.4% of the total cov-
moderate and high hazard). Low, moderate, high and erage, due to funding and time constraints (Figs. 16,
very high vulnerability classes were then identified in 17). This is probably one of the most advanced exam-
the form of a table which, using ILWIS 2,3, led to a ples of GIS landslide-specific risk mapping published to
landslide risk map. date. It shows that there is wide scope for future
Castelli et al. (2002, 2004) and Bonnard et al. (2004) improvement or extension of the methodology for land
described the objectives of the IMIRILAND Project use planning, insurance assessment, hazard mitigation
(EEC). This was a multidisciplinary landslide risk and vulnerability resilience.
assessment based on Varnes’s (1984) concepts but Bell and Glade (2004), in the previously mentioned
using a different approach. They considered that landslide risk map in Iceland, considered the vulnera-

Engineering geology maps: landslides and GIS 385

bility of people, buildings and people in buildings, in colours from grey (0, no assessed risk) to red (4, pro-
terms of specific processes of given magnitudes. They hibition zone requiring immediate protection works).
assessed vulnerability with values from 0.1 for debris Hollestein (2005) proposed a conceptual extension
fall and rockfall affecting people up to a highest value of new and existing models based on a standardisation
of 0.5 for people and buildings under threat from of the output of hazard assessment in order to fill the
debris flows and rockfall. They established these values large gaps in knowledge about vulnerability. This was
after reviewing and analysing the available literature, made by defining stages of the target objects (ele-
adapting the findings to Icelandic conditions, and ments) which depend on the impact and, at the same
reviewing papers on avalanche risks in Iceland. time, affect the performance characteristics of the ob-
Prina et al. (2004) assessed landslide risk for a ject. He defined the hazard by a probability P (or its
mountain road between the towns of Aigle and reciprocal, the return period) as a function of the
L’Etivaz (Switzerland) threatened by the known slides intensity, I, which comprises a description of the im-
of La Frasse and La Lécherette, and frequent rockfall, pact together with its spatio-temporal distribution. The
avalanche and debris flow events (Fig. 18). Following risk R was defined by the product between the fre-
Varnes’ (1984) definition of vulnerability, they took quency of an event and the resulting damage N.
account of four factors: physical, social, environmental Therefore, he estimated the risk as: R = F · N = P ·
and economical vulnerability. These factors were as- I · E · V, being P probability, I, intensity, E, spatio-
sessed for each given element, in this case of the road, temporal distribution of the target objects, and V,
in a graphical form following Leone et al. (1996b). vulnerability.
Figure 19 shows the four values. He described four different types of definition of the
Each of the four components varies between 0 (no term vulnerability as: a Boolean variable, a semi-
impact) and 100% (total destruction). For such an quantitative variable, a fully quantitative variable and
assessment to be successful, it is essential that there is an interpolated variable. Also in cases of vulnerability
considerable knowledge of the interactions between to gravitational hazards, such as landslides, debris flow
landsliding and its consequences for the exposed ele- and snow avalanches, he noticed a smaller number of
ments. The authors suggested the following principles: references in the literature compared to studies of
vulnerability to earthquake or wind events. He sug-
1. As far as physical damage is concerned, it must be
gested that this situation derived from the fact that, in
assessed in terms of structural failure, but also in
the past, this issue of vulnerability was ‘‘simply not
terms of operational failure, for instance when the
addressed on a systematic level for these ‘minor’ haz-
tilting of a house or a road exceeds an acceptable
ards’’. The model proposed by Hollenstein (2004) was
value, even though no cracks are reported. It also
based on the definition of the given target object as a
depends on the building material used and the
vector S composed of a number (n) of performance
maintenance of the structures.
characteristic si, where i = 1 to n, which are selected
2. Social vulnerability can also be conditioned by the
according to purpose. Initially a fully functional and
capacity of the population to anticipate the
structurally undamaged reference state was defined by
threatening phenomenon and its ability to prevent
SND = (s1 = 1, s2 = 1, s3 = 3,... ,sn = 1) and the total
any excessive exposure (spontaneous evacuation,
loss of performance by STD =
preventive measures carried out).
(s1 = 0, s2 = 0, s3 = 0, ... ,sn = 0). For the assessment,
3. Two main aspects of the environmental vulnera-
causal chains consisting of impact-state performance
bility depend on one hand on the presence of
were identified and a description of the hazard’s im-
protective forest against rockfall which may induce
pact, I, was obtained using a limited set of components
major damage if they are affected by the move-
of I. The author proposed a partial differential equa-
ment of the slide and on the other hand on the
tion, expressing the relative change in performance
possibility of damming a stream which may then
that results from a change in the impact, to obtain the
induce flooding upstream and downstream, if the
vulnerability of the given target object and a process
natural dam caused by the slide breaks. This last
for the estimation of the impact with some conceptual
situation may also be called secondary vulnerabil-
ity, and requires to be extended the investigated
Msilimba and Holmes (2005) proposed a vulnera-
zone much further than the zone strictly exposed to
bility appraisal procedure for landslide (particularly
the original landslide.
debris flow) hazard assessment in Vunguvungu (Banga
Four risk classes were mapped by the authors, catchment), Northern Malawi. This area was threa-
describing qualitative risk levels from 0 to 4, depicted in tened by landslides causing damage to vegetation and

386 J. Chacón et al.

Fig. 20 Sketch of GIS steps

in landslide mapping and Type, Thematic layers: geology, water
assessment to analyse the INVENTORY Magnitude, ,morphology, soils, geotechnics, etc
different types of landslides OF Activity or Frecuency
included in the inventory LANDSLIDES Degree of

REMOTE development, FACTORS

Reach angle,
Run out distance

(Landslide prone zones) Destructive





crops, the Banga River, water irrigation channels and a. Maps of spatial incidence of landslides
roads. This is a rural area with cultivation, roads and
– • Qualitative susceptibility maps
trackways and scattered urban areas. From aerial pho-
– • Semi-quantitative susceptibility maps using
tography and field survey, including sampling and lab-
weighted factors
oratory analyses of selected physical and mechanical
– • Semi-quantitative susceptibility maps based on
soil properties, they analysed determinant factors and
susceptibility numbers or indices
mapped eight example sites, to obtain vulnerability
– • Semi-quantitative maps of instability zones
scores and indices. The vulnerability scoring was based
based on geological or geomorphological data
on eight empirical variables: slope (three intervals),
– • Hazard qualitative maps without any temporal
disturbance of land surface (undisturbed, moderate and
high); vegetation (three classes), percentage of sand
– • Risk maps (risk as spatial hazard) on qualitative
(three intervals), porosity index (three intervals), plas-
or semi-quantitative analysis
ticity index (three intervals) and bulk density (three
– • Spatial maps based on certainty analysis, logical
intervals). Values of 1–3 were given to the contribution
regression and expert opinions
of each factor to the vulnerability for each class. The
– • Spatial maps based on statistical multivariate
average of the eight factors was taken as the vulnera-
probabilistic analysis
bility index from which the stability conditions were
– • Spatial maps based on the matrix or GIS matrix
assessed as stable (vulnerability index £ 1.5), poten-
tially unstable (1.5–2) and unstable (>2). Four of the
– • Spatial maps based on ANNs
eight example sites were classified as unstable, three
– • Spatial maps based on fuzzy logic
potentially unstable and one as stable. The method at-
– • Spatial maps based on slope safety factor analysis
tempted to ascertain the mechanisms for landsliding, to
– • Spatial maps based on slope reliability index
recognise exacerbating factors and to identify areas
b. Maps of landslides with spatial–temporal incidence
which are potentially at risk from landslides.
and forecasting
– • Maps obtained using coupled slope stability and
Conclusions, recommendations and further
slope hydrological models with rainfall proba-
bility assessment
1. In this review the following groups of maps – • Maps obtained using coupled models of slope
related to landslide assessment have been con- stability and slope dynamic behaviour related to
sidered: earthquake probability assessment

Engineering geology maps: landslides and GIS 387

c. Maps of consequences of landslides Burton and Bathurst (1998), Calcaterra et al.

(2004), Chleborad (2000), Dai and Lee (2003), Dai
– • Risk assessment
et al. (2003), Dymon et al. (1999), Garland and
– • Vulnerability assesment
Olivier (1993), Glade et al. (2000), Savage et al.
2. Many of the adopted methods were internally (2003). Also shallow landslides triggered by
validated using statistical analysis of correlations earthquakes are analysed by Aiello et al. (2004),
between samples of landslides with a whole Capolongo et al. (2002), Del Gaudio and Wasow-
inventory. In a very few cases, the validation was ski (2004), Ho and Miles (1997), Jakob and
accomplished by monitoring the usefulness of the Weatherly (2003), Lin and Tung (2003), Luzi and
map in forecasting subsequent landslides, for in- Pergalani (1999, 2000), Miles and Ho (1999), Moon
stance Irigaray et al. (1998a, 1999, 2006), Miles and Blackstock (2004), Wasowski et al. (2002).
et al. (2000), Lee et al. (2002a, b, c), Santacana and 6. Historical information about landslides, with a
Corominas (2002), Chung and Fabbri (2003), Re- more or less precise indication of slopes affected by
mondo et al. (2003b), Lee and Ryu (2004; see also instability and the dates of the active stages of the
Van Westen et al. 1999). landslides, is important for an accurate temporal
3. Since GIS has become available (Fig. 20) suscep- assessment relating data on triggering rainfall or on
tibility maps have become dominant over landslide earthquakes to the resulting landslides. In many
maps showing spatial incidence. Widespread use of countries, historical data about most landslides in-
software packages outside GIS is observed, par- cluded in inventories are scarce or simply lacking.
ticularly for statistical treatment of data in bivari- Although it is possible to observe relationships
ate, multivariate and other methods requiring between current landslides and rainfall or earth-
mathematical assessment. Extensive use of GIS quakes, the numbers of landslides for which tem-
has led to improvement of factor analyses includ- poral information is available may be so few that it
ing enhancement of former methods such as den- is impossible to undertake a quantitative landslide
sity contouring, qualitative and semi-quantitative hazard assessment. In such cases, which are more
methods based on geological and geomorphologi- frequent in semi-arid or arid countries, a good
cal parameters, the matrix method or bivariate and alternative is provided by landslide susceptibility
multivariate correlations. A number of new meth- maps based on qualitative or semi-quantitative
ods have been developed including logistic factor analysis using the GIS matrix method or
regression, uncertainty analysis, neural networks, some ‘‘factor weighted with uncertainty’’ analysis.
fuzzy logic, reliability analysis, fractal analysis, etc. Integrating data about the destructive capability of
4. The method of hazard and risk assessment pro- known and predicted landslides with qualitative
posed by Varnes (1984), with some additional information on return periods of the different type
contributions from Fell (1992), Morgan et al. of landslide makes it is possible to prepare a qual-
(1992) and Fell (1994), has been followed in the itative hazard map as an alternative to a quantita-
majority of published GIS papers, although other tive hazard map. Although a probabilistic landslide
approaches, some of which use similar terminology hazard map is far more accurate than any qualita-
but with different meanings, are available. tive hazard map, the limitations in underdeveloped
5. GIS maps depicting the spatial–temporal incidence or recently developed countries, where temporal
of landslides are usually based on temporal data data are lacking, may justify the use of qualitative
from triggering rainfall periods. These are used to hazard maps as a preliminary step towards a pro-
obtain landslide annual probabilities in the defined gram of landslide control and mitigation.
hazard zones. Also return periods for earthquakes 7. Several methods to assess hazard have been de-
of given magnitudes have been used for landslide scribed. These use both temporal spatial data on
hazard mapping. A coupled physical or stability landsliding and data on magnitude, velocity and
model, in both static and dynamic conditions, run-out distance. Information about the rate of
usually corresponds to the limit of equilibrium of development of the landslide should be integrated
failure along a planar slide on infinite slopes, and in the assessment as serious damage may arise
can be used for modelling shallow landslides. Dif- during the early stages of landsliding. For instance,
ferent additional contributions to the analysis and the propagation of the tension cracks and forma-
mapping of shallow landslides related to rainfall tion of head scarp structures can seriously damage
are found in Alcántara-Ayala (2004), Aleotti roads or buildings, etc. in the affected areas. On
(2004), Borga et al. (1997), Burton et al. (1998), many occasions, landslide activity stops at this

388 J. Chacón et al.

early stage, remaining in a dormant condition for H Description

some time, until a new rainfall event or earthquake ≥ 30 Extremely high
leads to it being resumed. Models considering
≥ 20,<30 Very high
landsliding activity from the early stage to the final
development therefore may not be representative ≥ 10,<20 High
of actual processes in many areas around the ≥ 7,<10 Medium
world. Hazard assessment should thus integrate all
≥ 3,<7 Low
the available data about parameters including
landslide intensity (magnitude, velocity and run- ≥2 Very low
out distance) but also temporal data about land-
Fig. 22 Hazard level colour chart and intervals following Fell
slide activity periods and the degree of develop- (1994)
ment of the landslide. GIS systems for
management, control and mitigation of regional or 9. Maps of spatial and spatial–temporal incidence of
local landslides, and other natural hazards, are landslides have been markedly improved using
suitable tools for this task. Any landslide hazard GIS and have increased greatly the number of
map is only a snapshot representation of a given researchers, countries and papers on the topic. It
hazard condition with limited validity for a par- has also been instrumental in introducing new
ticular period of time which should be determined. methods of factor analyses. However, the maps
8. There is a lack of internationally accepted classi- identifying the consequences of landsliding are still
fications and conventions for maps of spatial and in a more basic stage of development. Methods
spatial–temporal incidence of landslides. A com- based on Varnes (1984) are clearly predominant
mon standard would be highly valuable for com- but the important differences in physical, envi-
paring maps, and also to classify the landslide areas ronmental, social and economic factors around the
all around the world in a manner similar to that world significantly affect approaches to assessing
used in, for example, seismic areas. A simple risk and vulnerability. The results obtained to date
classification of landslide susceptibility is the from GIS mapping of landslide risk are varied and
averaged percentage of landslide failure areas per range from small-scale qualitative maps in rural
total area of the region, by lithological or geolog- areas of underdeveloped countries to large-scale
ical units, as proposed in the relative susceptibility semi-quantitative maps in urban areas in devel-
numbers of Brabb et al. (1972). This can give a oped countries. A common method for the
simple scale as shown, for instance, in Fig. 21. Fell assessment of vulnerability in landslide risk map-
(1994) also proposed a classification of landslide ping is still not available, although interesting re-
hazard (Table 4), which could be internationally sults and methods have been obtained from alpine
acceptable, expressed as a colour chart. An or mountain regions in a number of developed
example is shown in Fig. 22. Of course in this case countries.
the approach to hazard assessment should be used 10. A basic constraint on landslide research is the
only for probabilistic methods employing detailed process of identification, mapping and compilation
temporal data on landslide triggering rainfall or/ of an inventory of landslides. Deep landslides are
and earthquakes. Nevertheless, the colour chart usually, but not always, more easily distinguished
could be used internationally and the legend of the than shallow landslides, particularly those affect-
map should provide information to define the real ing soft soils and weathered rock massifs as debris
meaning of the particular hazard assessment. and earth flows or complex landslides including

% Failed area: 0-1 2-8 9-25 26-42 43-53 54-70 100


Negligible Low Middle High Very high Ext. High Landslide

Fig. 21 Classification and colour chart for relative susceptibility: 0–1% negligible; 2–8% low; 9–25% high; 43–53% very high; 54–70%
extremely high and 100% landslide, following intervals proposed by Brabb et al. (1972)

Engineering geology maps: landslides and GIS 389

plastic behaviour. This fact is well known to by the US Geological Survey in California (Dr.
experienced professionals and researchers. It is a E.E. Brabb personal communication; Brabb
basic constraint on the quality of the resulting 1993). The question was also considered by Ar-
map. The GIS capability for the presentation of dizzone et al. (2002); Chung and Fabbri (2003)
the maps, including successful internal validation who suggested, with Guzzetti et al. (2000), that
of the particular method of analysis and model- the use of multivariate statistical techniques may
ling, may tempt inexperienced researchers to for- help to reduce the effects of inaccuracy of the
get this basic constraint. An unusual paper by basic information. The proper use of new GIS
Guzzetti et al. (2000) presents the results of the interfaces for landslide mapping requires high
Tiber River Basin (Central Italy) experiment. This quality field results to support the otherwise
consisted of comparing two landslides inventories apparently successful maps obtained though the
made in the same area by different persons. One computer.
inventory was a reconnaissance map made in the 11. High resolution remote sensing images, multi-
late 1980s and early 1990s on 1:33,000 scale aerial temporal satellite images with ASTER (Fig. 23,
photography and field survey, showing about 4,000 Liu et al. 2004), LIDAR and Radar images, using
landslides and covering some 270 km2 (7% of the GPS, and ground based or satellite images based
total area). The second showed a new inventory on permanent or scattered differential interfer-
obtained by reinterpreting the former aerial pho- ometry (SAR and DinSAR), etc. are now avail-
tography survey using 1:13,000 scale colour aerial able. A number of researchers in different
photography and detailed field checks in six pilot countries are accumulating a considerable body of
areas in or close to the basin. This second inven- experience on landslide applications which may
tory showed 17,600 slope failures covering some help a better compilation of basic landslide
514 km2 and 12.5% of the total area. The esti- inventories and also obtaining a more accurate
mated mismatch between both inventories of the assessment of the landslide activity; see, for in-
same area was about 71% and was not evenly stance, Saunchyn and Trench (1978), Zebker and
distributed. The authors concluded that ‘‘errors Goldstein (1986), McKean et al. (1991), Leroi
and uncertainties associated with the inventory et al. (1992), Rengers et al. (1992), Hervás and
process can be large and need to be quantified’’. A Rosin (1996), Hervás et al. (1996), Astaras et al.
similar experience with similar results was made (1997), Eyers et al. (1998), Mason et al. (1998),

Fig. 23 Landslide hazard

map of the Badong-Zigui
region using ASTER imagery
(Liu et al. 2004)

390 J. Chacón et al.

Nagarajan et al. (1998), Davis et al. (2000), Gó- Kanungo (2004), Singhroy and Molch (2004), Ye
mez et al. (2000), Kimura and Yamaguchi (2000), et al. (2004), Zhou et al. (2004), Catani et al.
Malkawi et al. (2000), Refice et al. (2000, 2001), (2005).‘‘ Growing experience will improve land-
Rizzo and Tesauro (2000), Tarchi et al. (2000), slides mapping techniques in the next few years.
Vietmeier et al. (2000), Buchroithner (2002), 12. Site hazard and risk maps on slope instability are
Canuti et al. (2002), Casagli et al. (2002), Chi now based upon huge amounts of spatial and
et al. (2002a), De la Ville et al. (2002), Kaäb temporal data including:
(2002), Malet et al. (2000, 2002), Mason and Ro-
– • Geotechnical data and slope hydrological mod-
senbaum (2002), Nagler et al. (2002), Rizzo
(2002), Rodriguez et al. (2002), Singhroy et al.
– • Temporal data on failure and mass activity,
(2002), Antonello et al. (2003), Casagli et al.
magnitude and velocity
(2003), Mora et al. (2003), Paganini et al. (2003),
– • Spatial and temporal data on stages of devel-
Schiavon et al. (2003), Berardino et al. (2003),
Colesanti et al. (2003), Squarzoni et al. (2003),
– • Rainfall and seismic events
Tarchi et al. (2003a , b), Canuti et al. (2004), Chen
– • Slope stability analysis based on probabilistic
et al. (2004b), Lee et al. (2004b), Luzi et al.
reliability index assessment
(2004), McKean and Roering (2004), Sarkar and

Table 11 Classification of current landslide maps considering the basic data used in the different GIS methods of analysis, their
denominations and actual meaning
Basic data and usual denominations Type of information

Spatial incidence Temporal incidence

I. Landslide density or isopleths Landslide density No

II. Qualitative relationships—inventory/determinant factors: slope, Landslide susceptibility No
lithology, others. Landslide hazard, landslide susceptibility, slope or stability conditions
stability map
IV. Quantitative and qualitative relationships. Landslide susceptibility, Landslide susceptibility No
slope stability, landslide hazard. or stability conditions
V. Quantitative and qualitative relationships—inventory/ factors Landslide susceptibility No
including landslide pathways. Landslide hazard or stability conditions
VI. Quantitative and qualitative relationships inventory/ factors with Landslide spatial hazard No
landslide pathway, magnitude and velocity. Landslide hazard.
VII. Geotechnical data for slope stability assessment of safety factor, Landslide spatial hazard No
reliability index, etc. Slope stability map or slope safety factor
VIII. Data from geomechanical classifications (RMR, SMR) Landslide Landslide susceptibility, No
susceptibility or slope stability map spatial hazard or slope
safety factor
IX. Quantitative and qualitative relationships—inventory with Landslide susceptibility Slope susceptibility
temporal data series of rainfall or earthquakes. Landslide hazard or slope stability map hazard
X. Slope failure model coupled with temporal data series of rainfall or Slope stability map Slope failure hazard
earthquake. Landslide hazard
XI. Types IX or X with landslide pathways (Landslide hazard, middle Landslide susceptibility Landslide hazard
to large scales) or slope stability map
XII. Types IX or X with landslide pathways and landslide magnitude Landslide susceptibility Landslide hazard
and velocity (landslide hazard, middle to large scales) or slope stability and
spatial hazard
XIII. Types II, III, IV+ elements of territory + vulnerability assessment Landslide susceptibility Partial landslide risk
(landslide risk) and/or spatialhazard
XIV. Types IX, X + elements of the territory + vulnerability assessment Landslide susceptibility Partial landslide risk
(landslide risk) or slope stability map at failure zones
XV. Type XI + elements of the territory + vulnerability assessment Landslide spatial hazard Partial landslide
(landslide risk) or slope stability risk zonation
XVI. Type XII + elements of the territory + vulnerability assessment Landslide spatial hazard Landslide risk zonation
(landslide risk) with destructive
potential and element’s

Engineering geology maps: landslides and GIS 391

In all, 16 different types of landslide maps are found power and GIS availability is leading to a very quick
in the current literature if the basic data necessary increase in the number of different approaches to
for the analysis are taken in account. Table 11 re- this subject.
views these, taking in account the following basic
13. The limitations of two-dimensional GIS may be
data: landslide inventory density or isopleths; qual-
overcome using three-dimensional GIS, particu-
itative relationships between landslide inventory
larly in cases of rotational slides and deep land-
and determinant factors; quantitative relationships
slides with planar or rotational failure
between landslide inventory and determinant fac-
mechanisms or deep complex failures (Esaki et al.
tors; quantitative and qualitative relationships be-
2001; Li et al. 2004, Vähäaho (1998), Wang et al.
tween landslide inventory and determinant factors;
2002, 2003; Xie et al. 2003Xie et al. 2003a, b, c,
slope stability models; geomechanical classifica-
2004a, d; Zhou et al. 2004). The use of three-
tions; landslide pathways; landslide activity, magni-
dimensional GIS for large scale, detailed hazard
tude and velocity; temporal series of data of rainfall
or risk maps will be one of the significant devel-
and/or earthquake; territorial distribution and vul-
opments in the near future.
14. The widespread use of GIS has significantly im-
As shown earlier, spatial or spatial–temporal maps
proved our analysis and mapping capabilities,
are produced from these basic data using different
helping to provide better regional treatment of
GIS analytical approaches. These are usually
data, but at the same time introducing tempta-
termed–more or less vaguely–landslide suscepti-
tions to adopt more sophisticated methods and, to
bility or hazard maps, maps of slope stability
some extent, overshadowing the need for a dee-
conditions, etc. In Table 11, names are proposed
per knowledge of landsliding processes, through
to discriminate the real meaning of the informa-
from field geological, geomorphological and
tion included in each type of map. A proper
engineering research to the computer desk.
landslide hazard map should include not only a
spatial but also a temporal assessment, using series 15. Even now, well after the Decade for Mitigation of
of data on rainfall or earthquakes depending on Natural Hazards and despite the huge number of
the likely triggering mechanism, as well as data papers and new research on landslide mapping,
about the landslide pathway to account for the the wise conclusion of Brabb (1996) in his paper
consequences of the ground movement. Without ‘‘Hazards maps are not enough’’ still applies: ‘‘The
this, only the slope failure process would be preparation of hazard maps does not guarantee
assessed. that they will be used. Earth scientists need to
Information on the destructive capability of the target a different audience for hazard maps, if we
landslide (activity, velocity, magnitude) is required want acceptance and utilisation of our work. We
for a full assessment of the hazard. A proper land- must first make certain that the language on pro-
slide risk map should be based on a landslide hazard totype maps is simple, direct and easily under-
map (including landslide pathway and destructive stood, and that ‘stoplight’ colours convey red as
capability data) coupled with an assessment of the the most hazardous areas, green as the safest, and
vulnerability of the element of territory that is being yellow as intermediate in hazard. We must then
considered to the destructive capability of the ‘sell’ these maps to planners, politicians, emer-
landslide. Without this, a spatial risk map or quali- gency response staff, bankers, mortgage lenders,
tative risk map would be obtained. The information and insurance agents early in the life of a project
about landslide field data today may be transferred so that these people feel they have impact on
on line in real time using current web facilities and development of the data and the map, and so that
mobile GIS technology (Kim et al. 2004, Chang and they are likely to use the final product’’.
Park 2004).
Acknowledgments This review has been funded by project
Table 11 highlights the current complexity and REN2002-03366 on Landslides and active tectonics in the Gua-
confusion of terminology of so-called landslide dalfeo river basin (Granada, Spain), CICYT- I+D, Spanish
susceptibility, hazard or risk maps and other related Ministery of Education and Science and by the Research Group
terms which have been described in this paper. on Environment: Natural Hazards and Terrain Engineering
(RNM 121) Andalusian Plan of Research, Seville (Spain). The
There is a clear need for an international standard encouraging support of B. Marker, who kindly reviewed the final
regarding the aims of and methods for the different English version, M. Culshaw, Earl E. Brabb and F. Olóriz is
types of landslide maps as powerful computing acknowledged. P. Reichenbach is thanked for kind permission to

392 J. Chacón et al.

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information received from C. Bonnard, N.C. Evans, B. Marker, theory for integration of geological, geophysical and remote
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