Earthquake-induced rock fall hazard zonation of Varzegha-Ahar region in northwest Iran: a comparison of quantitative and qualitative approaches

Document Type : Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering



2 University of Tehran


In this study three earthquake-induced rock fall hazard maps of the regions affected by Varzeghan-Ahar earthquake doublet are presented. On August 11th 2012 an earthquake doublet (Mw= 6.5 and, Mw= 6.3) struck Varzeghan, Ahar and Heris regions (located in Azerbaijan-e-Sharghi province of Iran). Most of the landslides triggered by the earthquakes were rock falls and disrupted rock slides. Several rock fall zones, some with more than 150 rock falls were recorded, the farthest one approximately 45 kilometers away from the earthquake epicenters.A landslide inventory map of the region was prepared. Three methods of Information Value (IV), Logistic Regression (LR), and Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) were used for earthquake-induced rock fall hazard zonation. The results from each method were then compared using Receiver Operating Characteristics (ROC) curve. The area under ROC curve (AUC) was 0.927, 0.90, and 0.898 for LR, IV, and, AHP models, respectively. The most accurate rock fall hazard zonation map of the study area resulted from LR method, and IV method is, to a small extent, more accurate than AHP.


  1. Wilson, R.C. and Keefer, D.K. (1985) 'Predicting Areal Limits of Earthquake-Induced Landsliding'. In: Earthquake Hazard in the Los Angeles Region, United States Government Printing Office, Washington, 317-346.
  2. IRSC (2012) Bulletin of Earthquakes. Iran Seismological Center (IRSC).
  3. Yaghmaei-Sabegh, S. (2014) Characteristics of near-Source ground motions from the 2012 Varzaghan-Ahar double earthquakes, northwest of Iran. Nat Hazards, 70, 1077-1097.
  4. LMO (2012) Official Report of Legal Medicine Organization of Azerbaijan-E-Sharghi for Varzeghan-Ahar Earthquake.
  5. Memarian, P. and Mahdavifar, M. (2012) Distribution and characteristics of landslides induced by the Varzeghan Ahar earthquake doublet (Mw= 6.4 and Mw= 6.3) in 2012 in Azerbaijan-e-Sharghi, northwest of Iran. Proceedings of the IPL Symposium, 35-42.
  6. Budimir, M., Atkinson, P., and Lewis, H. (2015) A Systematic review of landslide probability mapping using logistic regression. Landslides, 1-18.
  7. Regmi, N.R., Giardino, J.R., McDonald, E.V., and Vitek, J.D. (2014) A comparison of logistic regression-based models of susceptibility to landslides in western Colorado, USA. Landslides, 11(2), 247-262.
  8. Marzorati, S., Luzi, L., and De Amicis, M. (2002) Rock falls induced by earthquakes: A statistical approach. Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering, 22(7), 565-577.
  9. Keefer, D.K. (1984) Landslides caused by earthquakes. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 95(4), 406-421.
  10. Guzzetti, F., Carrara, A., Cardinali, M., and Reichenbach, P. (1999) Landslide hazard evaluation: A review of current techniques and their application in a multi-scale study, central Italy. Geomorphology, 31(1), 181-216.
  11. Glade, T. and Crozier, M.J. (2005) 'A Review of Scale Dependency in Landslide Hazard and Risk Analysis'. In: Landslide Hazard and Risk, Wiley, Chichester, 75-138.
  12. Kayastha, P., Dhital, M., and De Smedt, F. (2013) Application of the analytical hierarchy process (AHP) for landslide susceptibility mapping: A case study from the Tinau Watershed, west Nepal. Computers & Geosciences, 52, 398-408.
  13. Saadatkhah, N., Kassim, A., and Lee, L.M. (2014) Qualitative and quantitative landslide susceptibility assessments in Hulu Kelang area, Malaysia. EJGE, 19.
  14. Murillo-Garcia, F.G. and Alcantara-Ayala, I. (2015) 'Landslide Susceptibility Analysis and Mapping Using Statistical Multivariate Techniques: Pahuatlan, Puebla, Mexico'. In: Recent Advances in Modeling Landslides and Debris Flows, Springer, 179-194.
  15. Aleotti, P. and Chowdhury, R. (1999) Landslide hazard assessment: summary review and new perspectives. Bulletin of Engineering Geology and the Environment, 58(1), 21-44.
  16. Carrara, A., Cardinali, M., Guzzetti, F., and Reichenbach, P. (1995) 'GIS Technology in Mapping Landslide Hazard'. In: Geographical information Systems in Assessing Natural Hazards, Springer, 135-175.
  17. Barredo, J., Benavides, A., Hervas, J., and Van Westen, C.J. (2000) Comparing heuristic landslide hazard assessment techniques using GIS in the Tirajana basin, Gran Canaria island, Spain. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 2(1), 9-23.
  18. Nourani, V., Pradhan, B., Ghaffari, H., and Sharifi, S.S. (2014) Landslide susceptibility mapping at Zonouz plain, Iran using genetic programming and comparison with frequency ratio, logistic regression, and artificial neural network models. Natural Hazards, 71(1), 523-547.
  19. Zare, M., Kalantari, A., Ansari, A., Haghshenas, E., Davoodi, M., and Mostafazadeh, M. (2012) Preliminary Report of Varzeghan-Ahar Earthquake Doublet, 11 August 2012.
  20. Vernant, P., Nilforoushan, F., Hatzfeld, D., Abassi, M., Vigny, C., Masson, F., Nankali, H., Martinod, J., Ashtiani, A., Bayer, R., Tavakoli, F., and Chery, J. (2004) Contemporary crustal deformation and plate kinematics in middle east constrained by GPS measurements in Iran and northern Oman. Geophys. J. Int., 157, 381-398.
  21. Copley, A., Faridi, M., Ghorashi, M., Hollingsworth, J., Jackson, J., Nazari, H., Oveisi, B., and Talebian, M. (2013) The 2012 August 11 Ahar earthquakes: Consequences for tectonics and earthquake hazard in the Turkish-Iranian plateau. Geophysical Journal International, 196(1), 15-21.
  22. Djamour, Y., Vernant, P., Nankali, H.R., and Tavakoli, F. (2011) NW Iran-Eastern Turkey present-day kinematics: results from the Iranian permanent GPS network. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 307(1-2), 27-34.
  23. Copley, A. and Jackson, J. (2006) Active tectonics of the Turkish-Iranian plateau. Tectonics, 25(6).
  24. Ambraseys, N. and Melville, C. (1982) A History of Persian Earthquakes. Cambridge University Press, New York.
  25. Berberian, M. and Yeats, R.S. (1999) Patterns of historical earthquake rupture in the Iranian plateau. Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am., 89(1), 129-139.
  26. IIEES (2012) Iran Seismic Catalogue.
  27. Talebi, M., Zare, M., Mahdizadeh, R., and Bali-lashak, A. (2015) Spatial-temporal analysis of seismicity before the 2012 Varzeghan, Iran, Mw 6.5 earthquake. Turkish Journal of Earth Sciences, 24(3), 289-301.
  28. Kassam, A.H. (1981) Climate, soil and land resources in north Africa and west Asia. Plant and Soil, 58, 1-28.
  29. Delju, A.H., Ceylan, A., Piguet, E., and Rebetez, M. (2013) Observed climate variability and change in Urmia Lake basin, Iran. Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 111(1), 285-296.
  30. Kehl, M. (2009) Quaternary climate change in Iran - the state of knowledge. Erdkunde - Archive for Scientific Geography, 63(1), 1-17.
  31. IRMO (2012) Iran Meteorological Organization (IRMO), Bureau of Meteorology east Azerbaijan statistics.
  32. Amidi, M., Lescuyer, J.L., and Riou, R. (1978) Geologic Quadrangle Map of Ahar (1:250,000).
  33. Geological Survey of Iran (GSI), Tehran.
  34. Manouchehri, M., Hosseini, Z., Afsharianzadeh, A., and Chaichi, Z. (1989) Geologic Quadrangle
  35. Map of Tabriz-Poldasht (1:250,000). Geological Survey of Iran (GSI), Tehran.
  36. Rajabi, A.M., Khamehchiyan, M., Mahdavifar, M., Del Gaudio, V., and Capolongo, D. (2013) A time probabilistic approach to seismic landslide hazard estimates in Iran. Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering, 48, 25-34.
  37. Baron, I., Kernstockova, M., Faridi, M., Bubik, M., Milovsky, R. Melichar, R. Sabouri, J., and Baburek, J. (2013) Paleostress analysis of a gigantic gravitational mass movement in active tectonic setting: The Qoshadagh slope failure, Ahar, NW Iran. Tectonophysics, 605, 70-87.
  38. Cornforth, D.H. (2005) Landslides in Practice- Investigation, Analysis, and Remedial Preventative Options in Soils. John Wiley & Sons Inc., New Jersey.
  39. Süzen, M.L. and Kaya, B.S. (2012) Evaluation of environmental parameters in logistic regression models for landslide susceptibility mapping. International Journal of Digital Earth, 5(4), 338-355.
  40. Yin, K. and Yan, T. (1988) Statistical prediction model for slope instability of metamorphosed rocks. Proceedings of the 5th International Symposium on Landslides, Lausanne, Switzerland, 2, 1269-1272.
  41. Wu, S., Shi, L., Wang, R., Tan, C., Hu, D., Mei, Y., and Xu, R. (2001) Zonation of the landslide hazards in the forereservoir region of the Three Gorges project on the Yangtze river. Engineering Geology, 59(1), 51-58.
  42. Kelarestaghi, A. and Ahmadi, H. (2009) Landslide susceptibility analysis with a bivariate approach and GIS in Northern Iran. Arabian Journal of Geosciences, 2(1), 95-101.
  43. Klose, M., Gruber, D., Damm, B., and Gerold, G. (2014) Spatial databases and GIS as tools for regional landslide susceptibility modeling. Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie, 58(1), 1-36.
  44. Akbar, T.A. and Ha, S.R. (2011) Landslide hazard zoning along Himalayan Kaghan valley of Pakistan by integration of GPS, GIS, and remote sensing technology. Landslides, 8(4), 527-540.
  45. Cox, D.R. (1958) The regression analysis of binary sequences. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series B (Methodological), 20(2), 215-242.
  46. Johnson, D.E. (1998) Applied Multivariate Methods for Data Analysts. Duxbury Resource Center.
  47. Chauhan, S., Sharma, M., and Arora, M.K. (2010) Landslide susceptibility zonation of the Chamoli region, Garhwal Himalayas, using logistic regression model. Landslides, 7(4), 411-423.
  48. Saaty, T.L. (1977) A scaling method for priorities in hierarchical structures. Journal of Mathematical
  49. Psychology, 15(3), 234-281.
  50. Saaty, T.L. (2008) Decision making with the analytic hierarchy process. International Journal of Services Sciences, 1(1), 83-98.
  51. Saaty, T.L. (1980) The Analytic Hierarchy Process: Planning, Priority Setting, Resources Allocation. McGraw-Hill, New York.
  52. Saaty, T.L. and Vargas, L.G. (2012) Models, Methods, Concepts & Applications of the Analytic Hierarchy Process. Springer Science & Business Media.
  53. Rezaie, F. and Panahi, M. (2015) GIS modeling of seismic vulnerability of residential fabrics considering geotechnical, structural, social and physical distance indicators in Tehran using multi-criteria decision-making techniques. Natural Hazards and Earth System Science, 15(3), 461-474.
  54. Ying, X., Zeng, G.M., Chen, G.Q., Tang, L., Wang, K.L., and Huang, D.Y. (2007) Combining AHP with GIS in synthetic evaluation of eco-environment quality-a case study of Hunan province, China. Ecological Modelling, 209(2), 97-109.
  55. Rodriguez, C., Bommer, J., and Chandler, R. (1999) Earthquake-induced landslides: 1980-1997. Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering, 18(5), 325-346.
  56. Dai, F., Xu, C., Yao, X., Xu, L., Tu, X., and Gong, Q. (2011) Spatial distribution of landslides triggered by the 2008 Ms 8.0 Wenchuan earthquake, China. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, 40(4), 883-895.
  57. Mahdavifar, M.R., Solaymani, S., and Jafari, M.K. (2006) Landslides triggered by the Avaj, Iran earthquake of June 22, 2002. Engineering Geology, 86(2), 166-182.
  58. Khazai, B. and Sitar, N. (2004) Evaluation of factors controlling earthquake-induced landslides caused by Chi-Chi earthquake and comparison with the Northridge and Loma Prieta events. Engineering Geology, 71(1), 79-95.
  59. Parker, R., Hancox, G., Petley, D., Massey, C., Densmore, A., and Rosser, N. (2015) Spatial distributions of earthquake-induced landslides and hillslope preconditioning in northwest South Island, New Zealand. Earth Surface Dynamics Discussions, 3(4), 501-525.
  60. Baeza, C. and Corominas, J. (2001) Assessment of shallow landslide susceptibility by means of multivariate statistical techniques. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 26(12), 1251-1263.
  61. Hanley, J.A. and McNeil, B.J. (1983) A method of comparing the areas under receiver operating characteristic curves derived from the same cases. Radiology, 148(3), 839-843.
  62. Mathew, J., Jha, V., and Rawat, G. (2009) Landslide susceptibility zonation mapping and its validation in part of Garhwal Lesser Himalaya, India, using binary logistic regression analysis and receiver operating characteristic curve method. Landslides, 6(1), 17-26.