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Landslide scar/soil erodibility mapping using Landsat TM/ETM+ bands 7 and 3 Normalised Difference Index: A case study of central region of Kenya

Mwaniki, Mercy W., Agutu, Nathan O., Mbaka, John G., Ngigi, Thomas G., Waithaka, Edward H.
Applied geography 2015 v.64 pp. 108-120
Landsat, agricultural land, case studies, color, disasters, erodibility, forests, geography, global positioning systems, land cover, land degradation, land use, landslides, rain, reforestation, remote sensing, runoff, soil erosion, soil surveys, volcanic rocks, Kenya
Landsat series multispectral remote sensing imagery has gained increasing attention in providing solutions to environmental problems such as land degradation which exacerbate soil erosion and landslide disasters in the case of rainfall events. Multispectral data has facilitated the mapping of soils, land-cover and structural geology, all of which are factors affecting landslide occurrence. The main aim of this research was to develop a methodology to visualize and map past landslides as well as identify land degradation effects through soil erosion and land-use using remote sensing techniques in the central region of Kenya. The study area has rugged terrain and rainfall has been the main source of landslide trigger. The methodology comprised visualizing landslide scars using a False Colour Composite (FCC) and mapping soil erodibility using FCC components applying expert based classification. The components of the FCC were: the first independent component (IC1), Principal Component (PC) with most geological information, and a Normalised Difference Index (NDI) involving Landsat TM/ETM+ band 7 and 3.The FCC components formed the inputs for knowledge-based classification with the following 13 classes: runoff, extreme erosions, other erosions, landslide areas, highly erodible, stable, exposed volcanic rocks, agriculture, green forest, new forest regrowth areas, clear, turbid and salty water. Validation of the mapped landslide areas with field GPS locations of landslide affected areas showed that 66% of the points coincided well with landslide areas mapped in the year 2000. The classification maps showed landslide areas on the steep ridge faces, other erosions in agricultural areas, highly erodible zones being already weathered rocks, while runoff were mainly fluvial deposits. Thus, landuse and rainfall processes play a major role in inducing landslides in the study area.