Tier-based approaches for landslide susceptibility assessment in Europe

In the framework of the European Soil Thematic Strategy and the associated proposal of a Framework Directive on the protection and sustainable use of soil, landslides were recognised as a soil threat requiring specific strategies for priority area identification, spatial hazard assessment and management. This contribution outlines the general specifications for nested, Tier-based geographical landslide zonings at small spatial scales to identify priority areas susceptible to landslides (Tier 1) and to perform quantitative susceptibility evaluations within these (Tier 2). A heuristic, synoptic-scale Tier 1 assessment exploiting a reduced set of geoenvironmental factors derived from common pan-European data sources is proposed for the European Union and adjacent countries. Evaluation of the susceptibility estimate with national-level landslide inventory data suggests that a zonation of Europe according to, e.g. morphology and climate, and performing separate susceptibility assessments per zone could give more reliable results. To improve the Tier 1 assessment, a geomorphological terrain zoning and landslide typology differentiation are then applied for France. A multivariate landslide susceptibility assessment using additional information on landslide conditioning and triggering factors, together with a historical catalogue of landslides, is proposed for Tier 2 analysis. An approach is tested for priority areas in Italy using small administrative mapping units, allowing for relating socioeconomic census data with landslide susceptibility, which is mandatory for decision making regarding the adoption of landslide prevention and mitigation measures. The paper concludes with recommendations on further work to harmonise European landslide susceptibility assessments in the context of the European Soil Thematic Strategy.