The problem of whether Landsat 7 data could be used to delineate areas prone to mass movement, particularly debris flows and landslides, was examined using three techniques: change detection in NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index), change detection in band 5, and the tasseled cap transformation. These techniques were applied to areas that had recently experienced mass movement: Layton, Davis County and Alpine, Spanish Fork Canyon and Santaquin, Utah County. No distinctive spectral characteristics were found with any of these techniques with two possible explanations: 1. That despite improved spatial resolution in Landat 7 over its predecessors and improved digital image processing capabilities, the resolution is still too low to detect these characteristics or 2. That the aspects of a slope that make it prone to mass movement are undetectable at any resolution by remote sensing.

Change detection in NDVI examined if areas that remained unchanged (defined as < 5% change) between August 14, 1999 and October 17, 1999 correlated to areas that are prone to mass movement. There was no correlation.

Change detection in band 5 was examined between August 14, 1999 and October 17, 1999, October 17, 1999 and May 28, 2000, and August 14, 1999 and May 28, 2000. An interesting result is that the Shurtz Lake and Thistle landslides (Spanish Fork Canyon) showed changes of greater than 30% during August 14, 1999 - October 17, 1999 and October 17, 1999 - May 28, 2000. These changes were limited to these landslides and not seen in abundance in surrounding areas. A similar localization of 30% change was seen in the Cedar Bench landslide (Layton) for the same time periods. There were no other correlations.

The tasseled cap ransformation shows areas of dominate greenness, soil brightness or wetness. None of these factors had distinctive patterns in the areas studied when compared to surrounding, mass movement-prone areas so no conclusions can be drawn about the utility of the tasseled cap transformation as it relates to areas of potential mass movement.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Geological Sciences



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Landsat 7, remote sensing, landslides, debris flows, Utah, Wasatch Front, tasseled cap transformation, change detection, band 5, NDVI, normalized difference vegetation index

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Geology Commons