The Use of Press Archives in the Temporal and Spatial Analysis of Rainfall-Induced Landslides in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, 1980-2005

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: The scarcity of data poses a challenging obstacle for the study of natural disasters, especially in developing countries where the social vulnerability plays as important a role as the physical vulnerability.  The work presented in this thesis is oriented towards the demonstration of the usefulness of press archives as a data source for the temporal and spatial analysis of landslides in Tegucigalpa, Honduras for the period between 1980 and 2005.  In the last four decades, Tegucigalpa has been characterized by a disorganized urban growth that has significantly contributed to the destabilization of the city’s slopes.  In the first part of the thesis, a description of the database compilation procedure is provided.  The limitations of using data derived from press archives have also been addressed to indicate how these affect the subsequent landslide analyses.  In the second part, the temporal richness offered by press archives has allowed the establishment of rainfall thresholds for landslide occurrence.  Through the use of the critical rainfall intensity method, the analysis of rainfall thresholds for 7, 15, 30 and 60 antecedent days shows that the number of yielded false alarms increases with the threshold duration.  A new method based on the rainfall frequency contour lines was proposed to improve the distinction between days with and without landslides.  This method also offers the possibility to identify the landslides that may only occur with a major contribution of anthropogenic disturbances as well as those landslides induced by high-magnitude rainfall events.  In the third part, the matrix method has been employed to construct two landslide susceptibility maps: one based on the multi-temporal press-based landslide inventory and a second one based on the landslide inventory derived from an aerial photograph interpretation carried out in 2014.  Despite the low spatial accuracy provided by the press archives in locating the landslides, both maps exhibit 69% of consistency in the susceptibility classes and a good agreement in the areas with the highest propensity to landslides.  Finally, the integration of these studies with major actions required to improve the process of landslide data collection is proposed to prepare Tegucigalpa for future landslides.  

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