Visualization of Urban Growth Pattern in Chennai Using Geoinformatics and Spatial Metrics

  • Bharath H. Aithal
  • T. V. Ramachandra
Research Article


Urban growth is the spatial pattern of land development to accommodate anthropogenic demand that influences other land uses (e.g.: open spaces, water bodies, etc.). Driven by population increase, urban growth alters the community’s social, political and economic institutions with changing land use and also affects the local ecology and environment. India’s urban population has increased by 91 million between 2001 and 2011, with migration, the inclusion of new/adjoining areas within urban limits, etc. Evidently, the percentage of urban population in India has increased tremendously: from 1901 (10.8 %) to 2011 (31.16 %). Chennai has an intensely developed urban core, which is surrounded by rural or peri-urban areas that lack basic amenities. Studying the growth pattern in the urban areas and its impact on the core and periphery are important for effective management of natural resources and provision of basic amenities to the population. Spatial metrics and the gradient approach were used to study the growth patterns and status of urban sprawl in Chennai city’s administrative boundary and areas within a 10 km buffer, for the past forty years. It is found that though Chennai experiences high sprawl at peri-urban regions, it also has the tendency to form a single patch, clumped and simple shaped growth at the core. During this transition, substantial agricultural and forest areas have vanished. Visualization of urban growth of Chennai for 2026 using cellular automata indicates about 36 % of the total area being converted to urban with rapid fragmented urban growth in the periphery and outskirts of the city. Such periodic land-use change analysis monitoring, visualization of growth pattern would help the urban planner to plan future developmental activities more sustainably and judiciously.


Urban sprawl Spatial patterns Spatial metrics Cellular automata 



We are grateful to NRDMS Division, The Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India; ISRO-IISc Space Technology Cell, Indian Institute of Science; Centre for infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation and Urban Planning (CiSTUP), Indian Institute of Science for the financial and infrastructure support. Remote sensing data were downloaded from public domain ( We are also thankful to National Remote Sensing Centre, Hyderabad ( for providing the latest data of IRS 1D.


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Copyright information

© Indian Society of Remote Sensing 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Energy & Wetlands Research Group, CES TE15, Centre for Ecological SciencesIndian Institute of ScienceBangaloreIndia
  2. 2.Centre for Sustainable Technolgies (astra), Indian Institute of ScienceBangaloreIndia
  3. 3.Centre for infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation and Urban Planning [CiSTUP]Indian Institute of ScienceBangaloreIndia

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