Accounting for covariate distributions in slope-unit-based landslide susceptibility models. A case study in the alpine environment

Gabriele Amato, Clemens Eisank, Daniela Castro-camilo, Luigi Lombardo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)
75 Downloads (Pure)


Thousands or even million of pixels can be contained in a single Slope Unit. Hence, each covariate used in spatial predictive models is characterized by a distribution of values for each Slope Unit. Here, we model the whole covariates' distribution within Slope Units for landslide susceptibility purposes. This is done by finely dissecting each covariate into quantiles and then modeling the susceptibility via a LASSO penalized Binary Logistic Regression. We choose a LASSO penalization because the common Stepwise procedure is not selective enough to shrink a large number of covariates to an interpretable subset (which we also demonstrate here). LASSO mostly selects 6 covariates out of 372 to explain the spatial distribution of shallow landslides in the Upper Badia valley, Italian Alps. This allows us to verify that the selection does not include any quantile close to the median hence, nor to the mean. The latter is the common representation of the covariates' distribution within Slope Units, which we also test and report in the supplements. Overall, we suggest to always investigate the whole distribution because the mean may not be the most informative nor the most performing way to generate Slope-Unit-based susceptibility models. In this general context, we generate our landslide inventory by combining semi-automated (OBIA) and manual mapping procedures. Our inventory, quantile covariates' representation and LASSO penalization produce excellent performances and interpretable relations between covariates and landslides.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105237
JournalEngineering geology
Early online date1 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2019


  • Binary logistic regression
  • Landslide susceptibility
  • Least Absolute Shrinkage Selection Operator (LASSO)
  • OBIA
  • Slope units
  • Stepwise selection
  • 22/4 OA procedure


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