The RUSLE erosion index as a proxy indicator for debris flow susceptibility

Alessandro Zini, Sergio Grauso, Vladimiro Verrubbi, Luca Falconi, Gabriele Leoni, Claudio Puglisi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


Debris flows represent dangerous occurrences in many parts of the world. Several disasters are documented due to this type of fast-moving landslides; therefore, natural-hazard assessment of debris flows is crucial for safety of life and property. To this aim, much current work is being directed toward developing geotechnical-hydraulic models for the evaluation of debris flow susceptibility. A common base for such current models is parameterization of background predisposing and triggering factors such as inherent characteristics of geo-materials, topography, landscape and vegetation cover, rainfall regime, human activities, etc. which influence the occurrence of these processes on slopes. The same factors are also taken into account in soil erosion prediction models. Consequently, it seems worth investigating the effectiveness of the soil erosion index as debris flows susceptibility indicator. To this aim, a logistic regression analysis was carried out between the erosion index assessed by means of the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) model and the inventory of debris flows that have occurred in an area in Sicily (Southern Italy). Model assumptions were verified and validated by means of a series of statistical tools. Different possible scenarios were also evaluated by considering hypothetical changes in soil erosion rate under different rain erosivity conditions. Notwithstanding the rough approximations in model data collection, the outcomes appear encouraging.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)847 - 859
Number of pages13
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology

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