Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 1–19 | Cite as

Slope instability on pyroclastic deposits: Landslide distribution and risk mapping in Zacapoaxtla, Sierra Norte de Puebla, Mexico

  • Borja-Baeza R. C. Email author
  • Esteban-Chávez O. 
  • Marcos-López J. 
  • Peña-Garnica R. J. 
  • Alcántara-Ayala I. 


In October 1999, rainfall induced landslides devastated different communities of the Sierra Norte, Puebla, causing more than 250 victims and economic losses greater than $ 450 million. The town of Zacapoaxtla was one of the sectors most affected by slope instability due to the existing geological features and geomorphic characters determined by material properties, landforms and processes. Extensive areas formed by pyroclastic piedmonts developed on the Quaternary volcanic ignimbrite deposits highly dissected by marginal gully erosion combined with an extreme rainfall event played a significant role as an ideal scenario for the occurrence of landsliding. Distribution of landslides triggered by rainfall within the main sector of the Zacapoaxtla municipality was analyzed by using IKONOS images in terms of exploring the likely relationship between mass movement incidence and levels of vegetation density. The later was undertaken by means of producing an NDVI and applying a fragmentation algorithm. Finally, a map of potential areas of mass movements risk was produced based on the combination of a socio-economic vulnerability index, geologic and geomorphological maps and the spatial landslide distribution.

Key words

Rainfall landslides IKONOS vegetation density risk Mexico 


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Copyright information

© Science Press 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Borja-Baeza R. C. 
    • 1
    Email author
  • Esteban-Chávez O. 
    • 1
  • Marcos-López J. 
    • 1
  • Peña-Garnica R. J. 
    • 1
  • Alcántara-Ayala I. 
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of GeographyUNAMCoyoacanMexico, D.F.

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