On the prediction of landslide occurrences and sizes via Hierarchical Neural Networks

Quinton Aguilera, Luigi Lombardo, Hakan Tanyas, Aldo Lipani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


For more than three decades, the part of the geoscientific community studying landslides through data-driven models has focused on estimating where landslides may occur across a given landscape. This concept is widely known as landslide susceptibility. And, it has seen a vast improvement from old bivariate statistical techniques to modern deep learning routines. Despite all these advancements, no spatially-explicit data-driven model is currently capable of also predicting how large landslides may be once they trigger in a specific study area. In this work, we exploit a model architecture that has already found a number of applications in landslide susceptibility. Specifically, we opt for the use of Neural Networks. But, instead of focusing exclusively on where landslides may occur, we extend this paradigm to also spatially predict classes of landslide sizes. As a result, we keep the traditional binary classification paradigm but we make use of it to complement the susceptibility estimates with a crucial information for landslide hazard assessment. We will refer to this model as Hierarchical Neural Network (HNN) throughout the manuscript. To test this analytical protocol, we use the Nepalese area where the Gorkha earthquake induced tens of thousands of landslides on the 25th of April 2015. The results we obtain are quite promising. The component of our HNN that estimates the susceptibility outperforms a binomial Generalized Linear Model (GLM) baseline we used as benchmark. We did this for a GLM represents the most common classifier in the landslide literature. Most importantly, our HNN also suitably performed across the entire procedure. As a result, the landslide-area-class prediction returned not just a single susceptibility map, as per tradition. But, it also produced several informative maps on the expected landslide size classes. Our vision is for administrations to consult these suite of model outputs and maps to better assess the risk to local communities and infrastructure. And, to promote the diffusion of our HNN, we are sharing the data and codes in a githubsec repository in the hope that we would stimulate others to replicate similar analyses.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalStochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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