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River Courses Affected by Landslides and Implications for Hazard Assessment: A High Resolution Remote Sensing Case Study in NE Iraq–W Iran

Othman, A. A.; Gloaguen, R.


The objective of this study is to understand the effect of landslides on the drainage network within the area of interest. We thus test the potential of rivers to record the intensity of landslides that affected their courses. The study area is located within the Zagros orogenic belt along the border between Iraq and Iran. We identified 280 landslides through nine QuickBird scenes using visual photo-interpretation. The total landslide area of 40.05 km2 and their distribution follows a NW–SE trend due to the tectonic control of main thrust faults. We observe a strong control of the landslides on the river course. We quantify the relationship between riverbed displacement and mass wasting occurrences using landslide sizes versus river offset and hypsometric integrals. Many valleys and river channels are curved around the toe of landslides, thus producing an offset of the stream which increases with the landslide area. The river offsets were quantified using two geomorphic indices: the river with respect to the basin midline (Fb); and the offset from the main river direction (Fd). Hypsometry and stream offset seem to be correlated. In addition; the analysis of selected river courses may give some information on the sizes of the past landslide events and therefore contribute to the hazard assessment.

Keywords: landslides; river offset; hypsometry; remote sensing; GIS; Zagros