Predicting the landslides triggered by the 2009 96E/Ida tropical storms in the Ilopango caldera area (El Salvador, CA): optimizing MARS-based model building and validation strategies

  • E. Rotigliano
  • C. Martinello
  • M. A. Hernandéz
  • V. Agnesi
  • C. ConoscentiEmail author
Original Article


The main topic of this research was to evaluate the effect in the performance of stochastic landslide susceptibility models, produced by differences between the triggering events of the calibration and validation datasets. In the Caldera Ilopango area (El Salvador), MARS (multivariate adaptive regression splines)-based susceptibility modeling was applied using a set of physical–environmental predictors and two remotely recognized landslide inventories: one dated at 2003 (1503 landslides), which was the result of a normal rainfall season, and one which was produced by the combined effect of the Ida hurricane and the 96E tropical depression in 2009 (2237 landslides). Both the event inventories included shallow debris—flow or slide landslides, which involved the weathered mantle of the pyroclastic rocks that largely outcrop in the study area. To this aim, different model building and validation strategies were applied (self-validation, forward and backward chrono-validations), and their performances evaluated both through cutoff-dependent and -independent metrics. All of the tested models produced largely acceptable AUC (area under curve) values, albeit a loss in the predictive performance from self-validation to chrono-validation was observed. Besides, in terms of positive/negative predictions, some critical differences arose: using the 2009 extreme landslide inventory for calibration resulted in higher sensitivity but lower specificity; conversely, using the 2003 normal trigger landslide calibration inventory led to higher specificity but lower sensitivity, with relevant increase in type-II errors. These results suggest the need for investigating the extent of such effects, taking multitrigger intensities inventories as a standard procedure for susceptibility assessment in areas where extreme events potentially occur.


Landslide susceptibility MARS Temporal validation Ida hurricane Caldera Ilopango (El Salvador) 



The present research was supported by a project funded by the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs of the Italian Government and carried out by the University of Palermo (resp. Prof. G. Giunta). Miguel Angél Hernandéz worked in this research as a PhD student of the Department of Earth and Marine Sciences of the University of Palermo (tutor E. Rotigliano, co-tutor C. Conoscenti). All the authors equally contributed to the research. The manuscript was linguistically reviewed by Maria Simona Romana.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Rotigliano
    • 1
  • C. Martinello
    • 1
  • M. A. Hernandéz
    • 1
    • 2
  • V. Agnesi
    • 1
  • C. Conoscenti
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra e del MareUniversità degli Studi di PalermoPalermoItaly
  2. 2.Facultad de Agronomía, Escuela de PosgradoUniversidad de El SalvadorSan SalvadorEl Salvador

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