Gully Erosion Susceptibility Assessment in the Kondoran Watershed Using Machine Learning Algorithms and the Boruta Feature Selection

Ahmadpour, H., Bazrafshan, O., Rafiei-Sardooi, E., Zamani, H.; Panagopoulos, T. (2021)


Gully erosion susceptibility mapping is an essential land management tool to reduce soil erosion damages. This study investigates gully susceptibility based on multiple diagnostic analysis, support vector machine and random forest algorithms, and also a combination of these models, namely the ensemble model. Thus, a gully susceptibility map in the Kondoran watershed of Iran was generated by applying these models on the occurrence and non-occurrence points (as the target variable) and several predictors (slope, aspect, elevation, topographic wetness index, drainage density, plan curvature, distance to streams, lithology, soil texture and land use). The Boruta algorithm was used to select the most effective variables in modeling gully erosion susceptibility. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC), the receiver operating characteristics, and true skill statistics (TSS) were used to assess the model performance. The results indicated that the ensemble model had the best performance (AUC = 0.982, TSS = 0.93) compared to the others. The most effective factors in gully erosion susceptibility mapping of the study region were topological, anthropogenic, and geological. The methodology and variables of this study can be used in other regions to control and mitigate the gully erosion phenomenon by applying biophilic and regenerative techniques at the locations of the most influential factors.

Keywords: ensemble modeling; data mining; gully erosion; watershed management; land use

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