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GIS-based land suitability analysis integrating multi-criteria evaluation for the allocation of potential pollution sources

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The geological environment has been heavily polluted by chemical substances over the past few decades. Pollution sources located on the earth’s surface or underground have affected the quality of the environment. A significant amount of impact could be reduced if the allocation of potential pollution sources was based on an evaluation of environmental conditions. The main objective of this study was to develop a methodology for the allocation of potential pollution sources by employing GIS and multi-criteria evaluation techniques. This methodology was applied to a study area located in the eastern part of Lithuania. A GIS-based land suitability analysis was performed after identifying 16 factors concerning the geological and socio-economic environment, which were important for environmental protection, land use and spatial planning. The environmental and socio-economic factors were divided into eliminating and limiting criteria. Criteria maps based on the selected factors were compiled. Areas delineated by eliminating criteria were identified as unsuitable for development (according to national legislation). Limiting criteria were evaluated according to the suitability level, which were determined in this study considering the principles of sustainable development. The relative importance of each criterion was assessed utilising the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP). A land suitability index (LSI) was calculated and the final result of the land suitability analysis was summarized in three suitability maps (environmental, socio-economic and composite). Four suitability classes (unsuitable, least, moderately and most suitable) for the allocation of potential pollution sources in the study area were used, and the nine most suitable candidate sites were selected according to the proposed methodology.

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This study was the subject of a Ph.D. thesis prepared at the Institute of Geology and Geography and partially supported by the State Studies Foundation of Lithuania. The authors are grateful to Dr. Darius Daunys and two reviewers for their valuable comments, which considerably improved the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ingrida Bagdanavičiūtė.

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Bagdanavičiūtė, I., Valiūnas, J. GIS-based land suitability analysis integrating multi-criteria evaluation for the allocation of potential pollution sources. Environ Earth Sci 68, 1797–1812 (2013).

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