Criteria for the optimal selection of remote sensing optical images to map event landslides

Fiorucci, Federica; Giordan, Daniele; Santangelo, Michele; Dutto, Furio; Rossi, Mauro; Guzzetti, Fausto, 2018, Criteria for the optimal selection of remote sensing optical images to map event landslides, Natural hazards and earth system sciences (Print) 18 (2018): 405–417. doi_10.5194/nhess-18-405-2018,

Landslides leave discernible signs on the land surface, most of which can be captured in remote sensing images. Trained geomorphologists analyse remote sensing images and map landslides through heuristic interpretation of photographic and morphological characteristics. Despite a wide use of remote sensing images for landslide mapping, no attempt to evaluate how the image characteristics influence landslide identification and mapping exists. This paper presents an experiment to determine the effects of optical image characteristics, such as spatial resolution, spectral content and image type (monoscopic or stereoscopic), on landslide mapping. We considered eight maps of the same landslide in central Italy_ (i) six maps obtained through expert heuristic visual interpretation of remote sensing images, (ii) one map through a reconnaissance field survey, and (iii) one map obtained through a real-time kinematic (RTK) differential global positioning system (dGPS) survey, which served as a benchmark. The eight maps were compared pair-wise and to a benchmark. The mismatch between each map pair was quantified by the error index, E. Results show that the map closest to the benchmark delineation of the landslide was obtained using the higher resolution image, where the landslide signature was primarily photographical (in the landslide source and transport area). Conversely, where the landslide signature was mainly morphological (in the landslide deposit) the best mapping result was obtained using the stereoscopic images. Albeit conducted on a single landslide, the experiment results are general, and provide useful information to decide on the optimal imagery for the production of event, seasonal and multi-temporal landslide inventory maps.

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