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Evaluation of debris flow susceptibility in El Salvador (CA): a comparison between Multivariate Adaptive Regression Splines (MARS) and Binary Logistic Regression (BLR)

  • Authors: Rotigliano, Edoardo; Martinello, Chiara; Agnesi, Valerio; Conoscenti, Christian
  • Publication year: 2018
  • Type: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • OA Link:


In the studies of landslide susceptibility assessment, which have been developed in recent years, statistical methods have increasingly been applied. Among all, the BLR (Binary Logistic Regression) certainly finds a more extensive application while MARS (Multivariate Adaptive Regression Splines), despite the good performance and the innovation of the strategies of analysis, only recently began to be employed as a statistical tool for predicting landslide occurrence. The purpose of this research was to evaluate the predictive performance and identify possible drawbacks of the two statistical techniques mentioned above, focusing in particular on the prediction of debris flows. To this aim, an inventory of debris flows triggered by the passage of the hurricane IDA and the low-pressure system associated with it 96E, on 7 th and 8 th November 2009, in an area of about 26 km 2 close to the Caldera Ilopango, El Salvador (CA), was employed. Two validation strategies have been applied to both statistical techniques, thus obtaining four models – BLR (I), MARS (I), BLR (II) and MARS (II) – to be compared in pairs. Model performance was assessed in terms of AUC (area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve), Sensitivity, Specificity, Positive Prediction Value and Negative Prediction Value. Moreover, to evaluate the robustness of the modelling procedure, 50 replicates were created for each model and standard deviation was calculated for each of them. The results show that both techniques allow for obtaining good or excellent performances so that it is not possible to define one of the two techniques as absolutely better. However, the validation procedure reveals slightly better performance of the MARS models, with greater sensitivity and greater discrimination among True Negatives (TNs).