, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 1051–1075 | Cite as

Assessment of rainfall-generated shallow landslide/debris-flow susceptibility and runout using a GIS-based approach: application to western Southern Alps of New Zealand

  • Theodosios KritikosEmail author
  • Tim Davies
Original Paper


Rainfall-triggered shallow slope failures are very common in the western Southern Alps of New Zealand, causing widespread damage to property and infrastructure, injury and loss of life. This study develops a geographic information system (GIS)-based approach for shallow landslide/debris-flow susceptibility assessment. Since landslides are complex and their prediction involves many uncertainties, fuzzy logic is used to deal with uncertainties inherent in spatial analysis and limited knowledge on the relationship between conditioning factors and slope instability. A landslide inventory was compiled using data from existing catalogues, satellite imagery and field observations. Ten parameters were initially identified as the most important conditioning factors for rainfall-generated slope failures in the study area, and fuzzy memberships were established between each parameter and landslide occurrence based on both the landslide inventory and user-defined functions. Three output landslide susceptibility maps were developed and evaluated in a test area using an independent population of landslides. The models demonstrated satisfactory performance with area under the curve (AUC) varying from 0.708 to 0.727. Sensitivity analyses showed that a six-parameter model using slope angle, lithology, slope aspect, proximity to faults, soil induration, and proximity to drainage network had the highest predictive performance (AUC = 0.734). The runout path and distance of potential future landslides from the susceptible areas were also modelled based on a multiple flow direction algorithm and the topographic slope of existing debris-flow deposits. The final susceptibility map has the potential to inform regional-scale land-use planning and to prioritize areas where hazard mitigation measures are required.


Landslide Debris-flow Susceptibility assessment GIS Runout Fuzzy logic 



The authors wish to thank Oliver Korup for allowing us to use his data on debris-flow catchments and fan deposits. We also thank NIWA for supplying the rainfall intensity data. The project was part of the first author’s PhD research funded by the University of Canterbury Doctoral scholarship. Financial support for field work was received from the Department of Geological Sciences Mason Trust Fund.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geological SciencesUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand

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