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In Journal of environmental management

The objective of this study is to assess the gully head-cut erosion susceptibility and identify gully erosion prone areas in the Meimand watershed, Iran. In recent years, this study area has been greatly influenced by several head-cut gullies due to unusual climatic factors and human induced activity. The present study is therefore intended to address this issue by developing head-cut gully erosion prediction maps using boosting ensemble machine learning algorithms, namely Boosted Tree (BT), Boosted Generalized Linear Models (BGLM), Boosted Regression Tree (BRT), Extreme Gradient Boosting (XGB), and Deep Boost (DB). Initially, we produced a gully erosion inventory map using a variety of resources, including published reports, Google Earth images, and field records of the Global Positioning System (GPS). Subsequently, we distributed this information randomly and choose 70% (102) of the test gullies and the remaining 30% (43) for validation. The methodology was designed using morphometric and thematic determinants, including 14 head-cut gully erosion conditioning features. We have also investigated the following: (a) Multi-collinearity analysis to determine the linearity of the independent variables, (b) Predictive capability of piping models using train and test dataset and (c) Variables importance affecting head-cut gully erosion. The study reveals that altitude, land use, distances from road and soil characteristics influenced the method with the greatest impact on head-cut gully erosion susceptibility. We presented five head-cut gully erosion susceptibility maps and investigated their predictive accuracy through area under curve (AUC). The AUC test reveals that the DB machine learning method demonstrated significantly higher accuracy (AUC = 0.95) than the BT (AUC = 0.93), BGLM (AUC = 0.91), BRT (AUC = 0.94) and XGB (AUC = 0.92) approaches. The predicted head-cut gully erosion susceptibility maps can be used by policy makers and local authorities for soil conservation and to prevent threats to human activities.

Chen Wei, Lei Xinxiang, Chakrabortty Rabin, Chandra Pal Subodh, Sahana Mehebub, Janizadeh Saeid


Climatic factors, Gully head-cut erosion, Predictive accuracy, Soil conservation